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If you are a parent (or about to become one) and are not married to your partner, then this guide is for you. You might have thought that all parents were treated the same whether of not they are married or in a civil partnership. But that isn’t the case. There are a few areas where it makes a crucial difference.

Download this guide as an easy-to-print leaflet What about the kids? (169 KB)

On these pages, we explain what your legal position is and everything you need to think about - including 'Parental Responsibility', what you need to do to protect your children in case you die, and what would happen if you and your partner split up.

Who is a second female parent?
A second female parent is the female partner of a woman who has had a child through a fertility clinic in the UK licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. You have to have chosen to be treated as parents together before conception takes place. Conception has to have taken place on or after 6th April 2009.

If you are a second female parent (see box) and you are not the civil partner of the birth mother then you are in the same legal situation as an unmarried dad. If your partner’s child was conceived before 6th April 2009 or conception did not take place in a UK licensed clinic, then you are in the same position as a step-parent.

What about step-parents?

This guide explains where step-parents stand in separate paragraphs, labelled ‘For step-parents’. If you are living with someone who has children from a previous relationship, this information is for you.
It also applies to people in same-sex relationships who are not civil partners.

Who isn’t covered by the information in the guide?

  • adoptive parents
  • people with special guardianship

If you're splitting up, and finding it difficult to agree where your children should live, or when they'll see whoever they don't live with, you could get help from a family mediator. Mediators are trained to help couples work out what arrangements they're going to make when they separate. They won't make the decisions for you. But they'll help you to work out for yourselves what options you have and decide which will work best for both of you. For more information go to our Family Mediation pages.

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October 2010

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Married or not - One Plus One

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Married or not looks at the differences between marriage and cohabitation, what your rights are, and how to raise some of the trickier issues with your partner.

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