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The Modern Family

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The word family can mean many things to different people and will not just be a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption.

In modern society, families come in all shapes and sizes. In this modern-day society, one definition does not fit all, and this is important to remember.

In the UK, a child can legally only have two parents. We all understand the basic concepts of human biology, and how life is created, but this doesn't automatically create the family scenario we all see and hear about in the 21st century.

Where a third person is not biologically related to the child, or they do not have parental responsibility, then they have no legal duties or responsibilities towards that child, until they obtain parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.

These responsibilities work hand in hand together, and each parent has an obligation to meet the welfare needs of their children.

Adoption is one way to obtain parental responsibility and, in England, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 gave LGBTQ+ individuals the right to adopt a child.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded 212,000 same-sex families in the UK in 2019, a 40% rise since 2015. The number of same-sex parents rose from 4,000 in 2010 to 12,000 in 2013.

1 in 5 adoptions in England in 2023 were to same-sex couples in 2023.

This truly highlights that whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity, providing a child with a safe, happy and secure home is ultimately what is the most important factor.

Adoption is not the only way a person can obtain parental responsibility for a child, and there are other ways of obtaining unity in all kinds of family. Whether you are coparenting in a relationship, or outside of a relationship, there are many mechanisms which can be implemented to achieve a secure and happy life for your child.

For example, if you are not a legal parent you can still obtain parental responsibility for a child via the following options:

  • a Parental Responsibility Agreement,
  • Parental Responsibility Order or;
  • “Live with” Child Arrangements Order.

These options provide a variety for individuals co-parent to raise a child outside of a relationship with someone that they trust.

It is important for your solicitor to understand the needs of YOUR individual family and to have the basic concept of who are the legal, biological and psychological parents of the child.

In Henriques Griffiths LLP in Bristol, we have a team with a wealth of knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, the understanding to allow you to set the important foundations for your family journey.