The importance of birth certificates for same-sex parents

03 June 2021

The number of same-sex partners with children has increased over the last decade.

Unfortunately, some of those relationships will ultimately fail – and, in some cases, that can lead to complicated issues relating to parenting rights and responsibilities.

Sioned Fitt, Family Lawyer, stressed the importance of both parents – and in particular the non-biological parent – being named on the birth certificate so that it is clear both parents have parental responsibility should there be a separation in the future.

Sioned said: “I have worked on cases where same-sex couples with children have separated acrimoniously and the biological mother or father has claimed greater rights towards a child, based on a child’s parentage.

“A couple may have shared an equal role as parents, but that can change once separated.

“When both parents are named on the birth certificate, this automatically gives both parties’ parental responsibility for the child.”

Sioned warned that disputes can get complicated where the non-biological parent is not named on the birth certificate.

She added: “If that is the case, the court will have to establish parental responsibility. The role of the biological parent will be clear, but the role of the non-biological parent often has to be established, dependent on the circumstances.

“For example, for a female same-sex couple who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, the non-biological parent is not able in law to both be on the birth certificate unless the child was conceived in a clinic. 

“Following a petition to allow both members of all same-sex female couples to be on the birth certificate, in May only 6,437 signatures (as at the May 10 2021) have been obtained.   10,000 signatures are required for the government to respond.  

 “My advice, alongside ensuring that parents are registered on a birth certificate, would be to get a parenting plan in place. This is a legal agreement which can clarify the role of parents and their future aspirations for a child.”

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