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NATALIE GAMBLE and LOUISA GHEVAERT, Partners, Gamble and Ghevaert LLP
Mr Justice Moylan's decision in T v B (Parental Responsibility: Financial Provision)  EWHC 144 (Fam),  2 FLR (forthcoming) is the latest of only a handful of published cases to deal with same sex parenting disputes and the impact of assisted reproduction law. The case vividly highlights how the principle of parenthood, traditionally a comfortable and familiar concept to family lawyers related to biology (which is therefore a question of fact rather than law), becomes much more complex in relation to families created through assisted reproduction or in alternative family structures.
Assisted reproduction law can (but does not always) override biology to confer parenthood on a non-genetic parent from birth. Parliament has overhauled assisted reproduction law significantly (and non-retrospectively) three times in the last 25 years, with the latest changes which came into effect last year enabling lesbian couples to be named on a birth certificate together for the first time. For assisted reproduction families, whether a person is treated as a legal parent (and so is financially responsible for a child) therefore depends on many different considerations, including marital status, the date of conception and the law in force at the time, whether they conceived at a licensed clinic in the UK, outside the UK or by private arrangement at home, whether they are in a same sex or heterosexual relationship, whether they have taken steps post-birth to adopt and whether they have subsequently married or entered into a civil partnership.
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