Since same sex couples have been allowed to marry with exactly the same rights as straight couples family law for the LGB community has become much simpler.
However, there are still some legal issues for the LGB community that arise that require specialist knowledge and attention.
At Grant Stephens Family Lawyers in Cardiff we are experts in assisting members of the LGB community with the legal aspects of parenting, from shared parenting, to adoption, to separation and child maintenance.
There are a lot of different situations in which same sex couples can become parents and who is legally recognised as the parents and who has any rights over the child. If you are in a same sex marriage and wish to have a child it is imperative that you seek legal advice to discuss the different options so you do not end up in any surprise situations.
Same sex couples can adopt and legally this is the easiest way to become a parent and to have full legal rights over the child as a couple. In the event of a marriage break down or a death exactly the same rights apply as they would do to the natural parents from a straight marriage.
However, adoption is a huge step to take and it doesn’t suit everyone. Many people wish to have their own biological child and this is where the law gets complex for the LGB community.
For lesbian couples it is, quite obviously, easier for one member to have a child that is biologically theirs than it is for male couple. However, the nature of the conception will determine whether or not the biological father can have any parental rights or responsibilities over the child.
If the child has been conceived through sperm donation then the biological father will have no rights over that child. The child may contact the father when they are 18, if they so wish. The other partner will only be assumed to be the parent if they agree to it and are married or in a civil partnership to the biological mother. It is essential that you seek legal advice in this situation in order to have sufficient evidence of the nature of the conception and to ensure that the other partner will legally become the other mother, as the laws are complex.
If the child was conceived through sexual intercourse then the biological father could claim parental responsibility which would deny the mother’s partner from becoming a legal parent.
Unlike a straight marriage, a lesbian marriage does not come with assumed parentage. Therefore if one member becomes pregnant and has a child then the other member of the partnership must seek to become the parent, it won’t happen automatically.
For two married men who – again, quite obviously – can not naturally have a baby the options lie with either adoption or surrogacy. Adoption is the safest option to go for, as surrogacy is an exceptionally difficult process that is not legally binding. The partner who fathers the child will only have parental responsibility if the child was fathered through sexual intercourse.
If the child was conceived through sperm donorship then there is no assumed parental responsibility at the time of birth and the surrogate mother has full rights over the child. A court order must be issued and the mother must agree to relinquishing parental responsibility of the child.
There is no reason at all why members of the LGB community can not become parents it is becoming more common and two members of the same sex can have the parental responsibility of a child. However, to start on this exciting journey you will have to navigate a legal minefield to ensure problems do not arise in the future. We can advise you on all of these issues and more so you can start your parenthood feeling confident and happy.