Potential pitfalls with IVF paperwork

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Major life events, such as marriage, separation and divorce all rely on individuals having their paperwork in order. One area of family law where paperwork plays an especially vital role is couples undergoing fertility treatments.

The recent case of Re V (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) (2016) involved a same sex female couple. One of the women had given birth following the IVF treatment. The couple had completed all of the consent forms with the NHS fertility clinic which provided for the same sex partner to be regarded as the child's second legal parent.

It later emerged that a crucial consent document, the "Form WP", was missing from the clinic's records. It was this form which provided the birth mother's consent for her partner to be the child's second legal parent.

Consequently, the partner had to apply for a declaration of parentage from the court. This confers on her the legal status of being the child's parent and is therefore entitled to be consulted in the child's upbringing. Not having this form in place would be especially pertinent if the couple split up, as only the birth mother would have the legal rights and responsibilities for the child. In addition, if the birth mother died the partner would have no legal rights over the child and would need to apply to the court to formalise her position.

Luckily, the court granted the partner the declaration of parentage and observed that clinics need to do all they can to provide their records as soon as possible, to minimise the emotional distress caused by these situations.

If you have any queries regarding the paperwork needed when going through IVF treatment, or any other issue regarding a children matter, please contact Sarah French or another member of the Blake Morgan family team.