Legal Implications

Alongside the emotional implications for LGBT families there are also considerable legal and financial issues which have very real consequences for LGBT parents and their children in everyday situations.

With no mechanism for legal recognition of non-biological parents, children do not have any rights to their non-biological parent even when that parent has raised them since birth. And so, for example, a non biological parent cannot be appointed guardian by the court or even by agreement of the natural parents nor can non biological parents be granted custody of their children. Having a registered civil partnership will not change this and starkly highlights the inequality between the proposed civil partnership bill and civil marriage.

A clear example of the inequitable treatment of children of LGBT parents in the proposed civil partnership bill is demonstrated in relation to the lack of legal obligations to maintain dependent children. Under the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976 (as amended) spouses have a legal obligation to maintain dependent children of the family which includes children who are not their biological children, but with who they were in loco paretis.

This obligation does not apply to civil partners in the proposed civil partnership bill which means children being raised in LGBT families are deliberately being discriminated against on the grounds of their parents' sexual orientation.