Menu

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility confers legal rights and responsibilities upon a range of individuals for children under English law.  It is also increasingly important from a legal status and identity perspective for modern families and those built through assisted conception.

Parental responsibility encompasses a wide range of legal issues including: education choices, travel and relocation, religious upbringing, financial matters, health and medical decisions, a child’s name, ability to apply/defend or participate in legal proceedings concerning a child.

The acquisition and exercise of parental responsibility for a child can raise complex legal issues, particularly when relationships breakdown, families restructure (blended families) and following assisted conception. This can create legal issues and difficulties for parents, children, donors, co-parents, surrogates, carers and modern families under English law, including:

  • Parental responsibility dispute (e.g. with a known donor, co-parent, surrogate, former partner, current partner, step-parent).
  • Lack of parental responsibility for a child (e.g. non birth parents, issues with birth registration arrangements).
  • International conflicts of law (e.g. following foreign adoption, overseas surrogacy or cross-border fertility treatment).
  • Parental responsibility in blended family cases (e.g. issues around a new partner acquiring parental responsibility or status for an existing child).

We provide advice, assistance and legal representation to acquire, protect or defend parental responsibility in respect of a child under English law, including:

Our preeminent legal expertise provides innovative legal solutions. We tailor or legal services to best suit your individual situation and needs.

How We Can Help

Our legal services include:

  • Legal packages
  • Bespoke legal advice tailored to your situation, needs and wishes
  • Preparation of legal documentation
  • Legal support and representation in court proceedings

Package One

Parental responsibility dispute – legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice on family and fertility law in the UK in the event of a parental responsibility dispute with a known donor, co-parent, surrogate, former partner, current partner or other adult).

Package Three

Parental responsibility for lesbian couples undertaking donor conception and fertility treatment overseas – legal review (not civil partners/not married)

This provides initial expert legal advice to support lesbian couples (who are not married and not civil partners) undertaking overseas fertility treatment and donor conception.

Package Five

Parental responsibility for lesbian couples undertaking donor conception by private arrangement – legal review

This provides expert legal advice to support lesbian couples (married, civil partners or cohabiting) undertaking donor conception by private arrangement.

Package Seven

Parental responsibility and status for a new partner in a blended family – legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice for blended families seeking to explore and confer parental responsibility and status upon a new partner or step-parent for an existing child.

Package Two

Parental responsibility and UK fertility treatment for people with complex personal situations and legal issues - legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice on parental responsibility for people undertaking fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic with complex personal situations and issues.

Package Four

Parental responsibility for single woman undertaking assisted conception with a known donor – legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice to support single woman conceiving artificially with a known donor by private arrangement, at a UK fertility clinic or overseas.

Package Six

Parental responsibility for co-parents conceiving by assisted conception with competing or conflicting status or wishes – complex legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice to support co-parents seeking to understand, manage and secure parental responsibility for a prospective child.

If you require legal assistance or wish to discuss your situation contact us.

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

News and Commentary

Click here to read more about our media and commentary work in relation to family and fertility law, policy and practice.

Leading Cases

Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with numerous leading cases in the UK dealing with the significance, acquisition, restriction and exercise of parental responsibility for a child, including:

AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam), representing an intended mother in international contested assisted reproduction and modern family law proceedings in the High Court concerning 2 surrogate born children. This case marks a legal first in the treatment of blended families in the UK following assisted reproduction, divorce, re-marriage, serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse as well as the legal status and identity of two surrogate born children, their biological, intended and social parents and arrangements for the children’s care and upbringing, including acquisition and exercise of parental responsibility.

In the matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Case V) [2016] EWHC 2356 (Fam), obtaining a declaration of parentage and confirmation of parental responsibility in the High Court for a woman in a same-sex relationship for a child conceived through fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic licensed by the HFEA.  The HFEA Consent Form WP was missing from the clinic file. The case for the first time gave guidance on the practice of making interim costs orders in favour of patients to fund litigation and access to justice following errors in the completion of consent forms at UK fertility clinics.

In JP v LP & Ors [2014] EWHC 595 (Fam), acting for the intended father in a high profile complex UK surrogacy dispute case following marriage breakdown and divorce. This case established for the first time a legal framework for cases where the legal criteria for a parental order cannot be met, including wardship, acquisition, exercise and limitation of parental responsibility for a child and featured in The Telegraph, BBC News and Mail Online (6 March 2014).

In Re C [2013] EWHC 2408 (Fam), obtaining a parental order (legal parentage and parental responsibility) for intended parents who conceived a child through a Californian (USA) commercial surrogacy arrangement. This case redefines the English Court’s approach to the authorisation of commercial payments in view of the UK public policy restriction against commercial surrogacy.

In Re IJ (a Child) [2011] EWHC 921, obtaining a parental order (legal parentage and parental responsibility) for British parents whose surrogate born child was born stateless and parentless in Ukraine. The case highlights the legal difficulties associated with foreign surrogacy and the importance of expert legal advice.

In Re L (a minor) [2010] EWHC 3146 (Fam), obtaining a parental order (legal parentage and parental responsibility) for British parents who conceived a child with a US surrogate mother (in Illinois, USA). The case marks a legal watershed ruling that the welfare of the child is decisive over the public policy ban on commercial surrogacy in the UK except in the clearest cases of abuse of public policy and featured in The Telegraph (8 December 2010).

In Re X and Y (foreign surrogacy) [2008] EWHC 3030 (Fam), being the first case in UK legal history to test the law for British parents conceiving through an international commercial surrogacy arrangement and which involved complex and ground-breaking legal issues in successfully obtaining legal parentage and parental responsibility by virtue of parental orders following a Ukrainian surrogacy arrangement, featured in BioNews (January 2009).

Read more here.

In the News

Father and toddler

Twitter updates

Follow Louisa on Twitter for latest industry updates

Read More
Family playing football on beach

Our latest news

Read our news on fertility & modern family law

Read More
Woman playing with Baby

Our blog

Louisa discusses her opinion on different topics

Read More