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Freeths - Law firm

Fertility Law & Donor Conception

Legal parenthood and parental responsibility

What is involved?

Fertility treatment and conception with the help of donors have allowed many prospective parents to have children when they might not otherwise have been able to. As many as 1 in 10 of all births in the UK may now be the result of fertility treatment or conception using a donor. However, these routes to parenthood can also create complex issues when it comes to who has legal rights and responsibilities towards the child.

Call our friendly, professional family team to find out how we can help you resolve your issue.

Click here to download our Donor Conception print-out guide.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We are ranked in the top tier by both the Legal 500 and Chambers for family law advice
  • We advise on all issues relating to fertility law
  • We develop innovative solutions to difficult problems, carefully tailored to your individual needs
  • You can trust our team to take a sensitive, empathetic approach to your personal situation
  • We offer specialist expertise and up-to-date advice about this complex area of family law

Legal parenthood

Legal parenthood affects things like the child’s inheritance, their nationality and who is responsible for the child financially. The woman who carries and gives birth to the child is automatically regarded as the child’s legal mother.

If the child’s legal mother is married or in a civil partnership then her spouse or civil partner will be the child’s other legal parent, as long as they consented to the fertility treatment. There have been a number of cases where fertility clinics have not advised parents correctly on the consent paperwork, resulting in the second parent having to make a court application to get legal parenthood.

Parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is separate from legal parenthood. Parental responsibility includes the right to be involved in making choices about a child’s education, healthcare and day-to-day decisions about their upbringing.

As with legal parenthood, the child’s birth mother automatically has parental responsibility. Beyond that, the situation becomes more complicated:

  • If the birth mother is married at the time of the birth, her spouse will have parental responsibility
  • If the birth mother is in a civil partnership at the time of conceiving a child, her civil partner will have parental responsibility
  • If the birth mother is in a same sex relationship but is not married or in a civil partnership, her partner will not automatically have parental responsibility
  • An unmarried father will not automatically have parental responsibility unless he is named as the child’s father on the birth certificate

If you do not have it automatically, you can acquire parental responsibility by signing an agreement with the child’s birth mother, which is then approved by a court.

If you cannot agree with the child’s birth mother, then you can apply to the court for an order.

Key contacts

Charlotte Coyle

0345 166 6282

Fiona Wilson

0345 030 5643

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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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