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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

19 SEP 2011

'If only we can find the appropriate terms to use the issue will be solved': Law, identity and parenthood [2007] CFLQ 458

In a residence dispute between separated lesbian parents the House of Lords considered that the principles to be applied to determine the child's welfare were the same as those that applied between heterosexual parents. It also affirmed the importance of a parent.s biological relationship with a child to the child's welfare. At the same time, it found that 'natural parenthood' could mean one or more of at least three parent-child relationships: genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and psychological/social parenthood. This paper raises questions about the prioritisation of biological links and the applicability of principles of universality and formal equality and suggests that the results are equivocal for lesbian parents. While on the one hand they may legitimise lesbian parent families, on the other they erase the differences and difficulties encountered in the actual parenting they do. 

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