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Routes to ‘Parenthood’; do some have better outcomes than others?

Date:24 JUN 2021
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Professor Chris BartonA Vice-President of the Family Mediators Association, Academic Door Tenant, Regent Chambers

This article considers the significance for the child of the various paths to legal and/or ‘social’ parenthood. It examines who may become a legal parent and/or obtain parental responsibility (PR), how they get there, and how they may be replaced. Such means as copulation, fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, special guardianship, local authority care and foster parenthood are considered, as is the legal relationship between the parents, both same- and different- gender. There is an analysis of other PR holders together with those who, whilst not necessarily having legal recognition, are involved in child rearing. Some relevant statistics are noted, as is the historical development of the various routes.

Whilst copulation is the most enjoyable means, free and usually quicker, it is not monitored, and the outcomes may be unintended and/or unwanted. Those outcomes may vary, dependent upon the nature of the parents’ relationship.  Studies also suggest that the life chances of those whose parents went to the time, trouble, difficulty and possible cost of taking other routes may be at least as good, if not better than, conferment by marital procreation. For those born to copulators who, unwillingly or otherwise, cede either parenthood or PR to others, the more the original parents’ replacements are individuals rather than the state, the better.



The full article will be published in the July issue of Family Law


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