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Preconceived ideas

The greatest advantage of preconception agreements in the context of non-traditional families is that they are a checkpoint for the parties to assess the long-term sustainability of their shared parenting, says Helen Waite

20 February 2012

The Court of Appeal is currently being asked to consider whether a father – a gay man who donated sperm to his lesbian ex-wife – should have increased contact with his biological son, who is now two years old. The mother says she made a pact with the father before the boy was conceived that she and her partner would fill the role of “primary parents” within a “two-parent, nuclear family”. She and her partner feel that the father’s application represents a significant departure from their plan about their son’s upbringing.

This is not the first case where issues arising out of a non-traditional family structure have been brought before the courts. The parental rights of gay and lesbian couples who conceive outside of formal medical structures are complex. While the parents may have a clear view before the birth of the child, once he or she arrives they may feel differently. The plan is often very different to the reality of having a child. People may underestima...

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