A child’s legal parents are usually its biological parents, and a child can only have two legal parents. Provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 provided legislation which affected legal parenthood and, therefore, allowed co-parenting for same-sex couples.
Co-parenting arrangements with single women
If an individual donates their sperm to a single woman with the intention of co-parenting, it is likely that they will be treated as the child’s legal parent. If named on the birth certificate, they will also have parental responsibility for the child, and so the right to be involved in key decision-making in the child’s upbringing.
Their partner may also be able to acquire status in respect of the child and there are a number of options:
- If the couple are married or are civil partners, they may sign a parental responsibility agreement (together with the birth parent) to confer parental responsibility on their partner.
- If the couple are not married or civil partners, they may be able to apply for a joint residence order, again giving the partner parental responsibility. Adoption is unlikely to be a suitable option because one of its effects would be to extinguish the carrying parents legal status as a parent, and this is usually not appropriate in co-parenting situations.
Co-parenting arrangements with same-sex female couples
The legal position regarding co-parenting arrangements where an individual or a couple donates sperm to a same-sex female couple is more complex. Following the changes implemented by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, same-sex female couples who are married or in a civil partnership when they conceive with donated sperm will automatically become legal parents of the child. The donor will not have any legal responsibility for the child although they and their partner would be able to apply for parental responsibility.
If the couple are not civil partners or married, they may be able to choose whether they wish the child’s second parent to be the donor or the non-birth parent.
For further information please contact Stonewall Cymru's Information Service on 08000 502020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org