Securing parental rights for co-parenting

children blowing bubbles near washing lineIf you have conceived through a co-parenting arrangement, you may want more than two people to have parental rights for your child.

Legal parenthood
Under UK law, a child can have a maximum of two legal parents.  The law dictates who the legal parents are; this is not open to agreement between the parties.  Find out more about how the law applies to co-parenting situtions.

Adoption orders alter legal parenthood, but they are rarely used in co-parenting cases because they move rather than expand parenthood.  It is not currently possible for an adoption order to be made in favour of more than two parents.

Parental responsibility
More than two people can share parental responsibility (which is the right to make and be involved in decisions about a child's care).  The birth mother has parental responsibility automatically.  The other legal parent has parental responsibility if he or she is married to or in a civil partnership with the birth mother, or named on the birth certificate.  Find out more about the status in law of lesbian non-birth mothers and co-parent fathers.

The other (non-legal) parent/s can acquire parental responsibility either by signing an agreement or by applying to court for a child arrangements order.  Different options might be available for different parents so you need to the best and fairest way of getting to the right end result.  Find out more about acquiring parental responsibility.

Disputed cases
If relationships have broken down and you wish to acquire parental rights without the agreement of all the co-parents involved, the law is more complex. Find out more about co-parenting disputes.