What you can do

Legal parenthood

What is legal parenthood?

A child can only ever have two legal parents, however it is possible for more than two people to have parental responsibility.

The key implications for being a child's legal parent are:

  • if they are named on the birth or adoption certificate they will have parental responsibility
  • they have financial responsibility, which can include paying child maintenance
  • they can confer rights such as nationality and inheritance entitlements to their child.

Legal parents

The following rules apply for children conceived through donor insemination on or after 6 April 2009:

  • Under UK law a child's birth mother will automatically be their legal parent when they are born, even if they are not their biological mother.
  • A child's second legal parent, at birth, will depend on the circumstances at the time of their conception.
  • The birth mother's civil partner or spouse will be considered legal parent, and can be named on the birth certificate, if they were married or civil partners at the time of conception.

A child conceived through a UK licensed fertility clinic: 

  • The birth mother can sign an agreement through the clinic to name her partner (if they are not married or in a civil partnership) and/or the biological father (if the donor is known) as second legal parent.

A child conceived outside a UK licensed fertility clinic:

  • If the birth mother is not married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception, the second legal parent, under UK law, will be the donor father. They will have parental responsibility if they're registered on the birth certificate.
  • It is possible for the birth mother's partner to become a legal parent by applying to adopt. They can also acquire parental responsibility.
  • The first step in applying to adopt your partner’s child is to inform your local council. They should be able to give you more information on the process.

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For further information please contact Stonewall's Information Service on 08000 502020, tweet to @StonewallUKInfo or email info@stonewall.org.uk