A child can only ever have two legal parents under English law (although additional adults can acquire legal status or rights for a child, eg parental responsibility, contact, residence).
Legal parenthood for a child denotes:
- Inheritance rights – giving your child an automatic right of inheritance from you
- Financial responsibility for a child
- Citizenship and nationality – enabling the conferral of British citizenship upon a child (except in certain prescribed situations)
Legal parenthood creates a lifelong legal connection with a child. Legal parenthood is different from parental responsibility and it is possible to hold one without the other or both in law.
Legal parenthood can become a complex legal issue for alternative structure families and families created through assisted conception, as law in the UK can override biology:
- A solo mother conceiving with a known donor may not have sole legal parenthood for her child (and could vest unwanted legal status in her known donor)
- A surrogate mother and her husband will be a surrogate baby’s legal parents at birth to the exclusion of the intended parents (pending the grant of a parental order)
- A non birth lesbian mother may or may not have legal parenthood for her and her partner’s child
- A biological co-parent may or may not have legal parenthood for their child
Click here for Significant Cases relating to legal parenthood.
How we can help
- Advise on acquisition of legal parenthood for a child in the UK, which is especially important if you are undergoing assisted conception and you have complex personal circumstances or want to conceive with a known donor
- Advise and prepare a donor agreement (to clarify the legal position of you and your known donor)
- Advise and prepare a co-parenting agreement (to clarify the legal position of you and your co-parents)
- Advise and represent you in a parental order application following surrogacy (to confer legal parenthood on intended parents and extinguish the legal status of surrogate parents)
- Advise and represent you in a private adoption application (eg if you are a step-parent or a non lesbian mother)
- Advise and represent you if there is a dispute surrounding the legal parentage and responsibility for your child
If you would like to discuss your personal situation in more detail or you would like more information about legal parentage please contact us by email email@example.com or by telephone +44 (0)207 222 1244.