Family structures

Diverse family structures are a modern reality.  Many families are created through assisted conception using donor eggs and sperm, surrogacy, adoption or re-structured following relationship breakdown and have non traditional formations, including:

  • Solo mother families (including conception involving a known or sperm bank donor)
  • Solo father families
  • Same-sex families (lesbian or gay)
  • Co-parenting families
  • Separated families (following divorce, civil partnership dissolution, relationship breakdown)
  • Families formed through adoption (domestic or intercountry)
  • Families formed through legal guardianship
  • Families with grandparent involvement

Legal status

Increasing numbers of families involve adults who are not legal parents in their children’s lives, including grandparents, new partners, known donors and co-parents.  They may play an important and active part in a child’s life and legal status can be conferred upon them in law by agreement or by the court following a parenting or children dispute.  For more information read about:

What happens if a parenting or children dispute arises?

Sometimes difficulties and disputes arise in relation to arrangements for children.

There are a number of different options if problems do arise – click here for more information.

Court procedure in children cases

If you are considering applying to court for an order in respect of a child or you are involved in children proceedings in court, you will need to comply with the relevant court process.  Click here for more information.

The child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration in relation to applications under the Children Act 1989 for contact, residence, parental responsibility, specific issue, prohibited steps and special guardianship.  Click here for more information.

How we can help

We can provide help with:

  • Obtaining and protecting autonomous legal parenthood for a child (eg to protect the legal status of solo mothers, solo fathers or lesbian or gay couples)
  • Acquisition of legal parenthood (eg for intended parents through surrogacy, non birth lesbian mothers, co-parents) including court proceedings for a parental order and adoption
  • Advising and prepare a co-parenting agreement
  • Advising and prepare a donor agreement
  • Advising and crafting a parenting agreement following relationship breakdown
  • Legal representation in a dispute about legal status or rights for a child (eg with a known donor, former partner or co-parent)
  • Specialist Wills appointing legal guardians for a child
  • Obtaining financial provision for a child
  • Advising and representing grandparents in relation to legal status for a grandchild

If you would like to discuss your personal situation in more detail or you would like to discuss a parenting and children issue please contact us by email fertilityandparenting@porterdodson.co.uk or by telephone +44 (0)207 222 1244.