Victoria Batstone
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Date Published:06 Oct 2017 Last Updated:18 Jan 2022

How does legal parenthood affect LGBT couples?

LGBT+ Legal Advice

The legal position of LGBT couples in respect of their children can be complex. A child can only have up to two legal parents (except in cases where IVF-based techniques have been used in which case there can be three), however more than two people can have parental responsibility at any one time.

It is important to establish from the outset, who the legal parents of the child are, as this will affect a number of important aspects of a child’s life. For example, legal parents are automatically entitled to apply to the Courts for orders concerning the child’s welfare and only a legal parent has financial responsibility for the child, including payment of child maintenance.

Who is a legal parent?

The child’s birth mother, who carries and gives birth to the child, will automatically, be a legal parent and have parental responsibility unless this is removed by a parental order following surrogacy or adoption.

The identity of the other legal parent will depend on the circumstances in which the child was conceived, the date on which the child was born, the marital/civil partnership status and the steps taken after the birth to formalise the legal status. Every case is fact specific and it is therefore vital that advice is obtained to suit your individual circumstances.

What can I do if I am not a legal parent?

There are various other ways in which you can obtain parental responsibility for the child concerned. For example, you can do this by obtaining one of the following:

  • A Parental Responsibility Agreement;
  • A Parental Responsibility Order;
  • A Child Arrangements Order providing for the child to live with you;
  • An Adoption Order;
  • A Parental Order.

Should you require any advice or assistance in relation to your children, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist lawyers by speaking to this firm’s Family Department on 01202 636223. Or visit our newly launched ‘Same-Sex Legal Advice‘ service page for more info.