As it becomes more common to start a family through insemination and surrogacy, many gay and lesbian couples are sharing this journey with another couple, or a friend, who might otherwise struggle to become parents themselves.
When it works well, this arrangement provides a wonderful opportunity for you all to become parents with the added bonus, which is more important to some people than others, of your child knowing both biological parents.
It seems like a win-win situation and it can be, if you are realistic about your expectations and choose your co-parents wisely. You should bear in mind that, however well you know each other, co-parenting will change your relationship irreversibly and you need to be able to work together for the next 18+ years to provide the loving and supportive family environment you envisage for your child.
We would always advise that you discuss your hopes and expectations about your involvement with the child in detail and put the key commitments in writing before you conceive. Not only will this minimise the chance of misunderstandings once your child is here, it is a good test of your compatibility as parents and will help you decide whether you should take the next step together.
Questions you could consider include, but are not limited to:
- Who should have parental responsibility?
- What type of parenting arrangement will you have? Will time be spent together as one big family or separately?
- Do your parenting values match?
- Will the child have one main home or two homes?
- How will you agree on a name? What surname will the child have?
- What level of financial responsibility will you all have?
- What happens if one of you wants to move away?
- What happens if one set of parents separates?
- Do you want to appoint the other parent and/or your partners as guardians in case something happens to you? You should talk to a solicitor about guardianship appointments.
If you decide to go ahead and have a child, it can be sensible to formalise the arrangement with a more detailed Pre-conception Agreement.
If you have already conceived or have a child, it is both possible and sensible to formalise your shared care and financial arrangements to provide everyone with certainty, especially your child.
If you are in the unfortunate position that your co-parenting relationship is breaking down, you could benefit from the advice of a solicitor with a child-first approach to help you resolve the situation in the best way possible for your child.
For further information on any LGBT family law, child law, shared care arrangements or guardianship matters please call 020 7993 2936 to schedule a consultation with a specialist solicitor, or if you prefer you can get started online.