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Collaborative Co-Parenting and Heteronormativity: Recognising the Interests of Gay Fathers

Date:7 AUG 2017
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Philip Bremner, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Sussex 

Keywords: same-sex parents - gay fathers - family law assisted reproduction - procreative consciousness multiple parents

The full version of this article will appear in Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 29, No 4

Find out more or request a free 1-week trial of Child and Family Law Quarterly. Please quote: 100482.

The legal regulation of same-sex parenting in England & Wales promotes the heteronormative model of women-led homonuclear families as the archetype of same-sex parenting. The law’s privileging of women-led same-sex parenting is evident in how the courts resolve collaborative co-parenting disputes where gay men and lesbians conceive a child together. This article analyses a number of recent collaborative co-parenting cases to argue that the judicial reasoning in these cases, which focuses on protecting the women-led homonuclear family, evidences a lack of proper regard for the ‘procreative consciousness’ of gay men.

The article further argues that the lamentable lack of explicit judicial consideration of the interests of gay men involved in collaborative co-parenting reflects the gender-based disparity perpetuated by the parenthood provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. These provide for the recognition without court involvement of women-led, homonuclear families but not male-led parenting. Therefore, courts must be sensitive to this disparity by explicitly considering the procreative consciousness of gay men, as they currently do with the potential vulnerability of women-led families. Only in this way, will judicial reasoning reflect the various interests at stake in collaborative co-parenting arrangements rather than privileging a particular family form.

This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 4, Vol 29, Year 2017. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence. 

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