Co – Parenting within the LGBT community has been used as a route to parenthood for many years. However with recent changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, meaning lesbian couples who conceive with donated sperm will be treated as both parents in terms of the birth certificate. Therefore excluding the status of the child’s biological father.

Choosing the right person to co-parent with is also important, especially as it could affect your friendship/relationship down the line. This person is going to be part of yours and your child’s life forever, they therefore need to have the right qualities and outlooks for you. Regardless of the coupling and the make up of the family, there are arrangements and discussions that need to take place before conception to ensure that each party are happy and willing to go ahead. These could include ;-

  • Practicalities: Where will the child’s primary residence be? How much time will each parent spend with the child? Will you have more than one child together? How will you decide what the child’s name and surname will be?
  • Legal considerations: Who will be the legal parents? Who will apply for parental responsibility and how will they do it? How will you protect the status of any co-parents who do not have legal responsibility (for example through your wills)?
  • Financial responsibilities: Who will pay for what and how will expenses be divided between co-parents during the pregnancy and throughout the child’s life?
  • Discipline and rules: Who’s in charge? How will you make sure your child receives consistent parenting and discipline? Parenting: Will the child be brought up in a faith? How and where will your child be educated? Who will attend parents’ evenings?
  • Changes: What happens if one of the couples splits up? What happens if someone dies? What if one of the co-parents or co-parenting couples wants to move abroad?

Some of these questions might not affect you now, but none of us know what is around the corner and it is better to prepared especially when considering bringing a new life into world. Structure is really important for children; it supports them feeling safe and comfortable, and allows them to express themselves.

Co-parenting agreements are valuable in providing this structure to your child’s life. You and your child’s co-parents need to agree on these points, it is best having the same agreement in each house so your child does not get confused or try and play each household off from each other. If you need help or support with these agreements please take a look at our Legal Advice page where O'Neill Patient Solicitors will be happy to help.

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For more information about the pros and cons of co-parenting.