Advances in scientific techniques have brought us varied ways to create our families. Following Parliament’s vote in favour of allowing the mitochondrial donation technique a year back, we see a further development. The technique, also known as mitochondrial replacement therapy, combines the genetic material from a mother and father with the egg (minus the nucleus) of another woman to create life. The technique involves using the genetic material of two females in order to replace faulty DNA in one.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will regulate clinics where the first “three-parent IVF babies” can be made.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 came into force in October 2015. This made the UK the first country to licence Mitochondrial Donation. The regulations set out clear guidelines for clinics wishing to offer the treatment.

The new technique has generated much ethical and moral debate and, of course, also re-awakens the question of what constitutes a parent and how this is best defined in law, taking into account the biological, legal and psychological aspects of creating and then raising a child.

What Legally Makes a Parent?

The attribution of parental responsibility does not always follow common expectations. Contrary to popular belief, parenthood is rigidly defined by law. It determines the all-important rights and responsibilities towards a child. 
Parental responsibility is not decided or influenced by the intentions of those involved in conception. It is, therefore, crucial that anyone involved in child arrangements such as surrogacy or gamete donation receives legal advice specifically tailored to the circumstances of their case.

If you take legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in children law, you can ensure your expectations will be met. A specialist lawyer can advise you on how to put the necessary arrangements in place to make certain that those who require legal parenthood can acquire it if they do not get it automatically at the child’s birth.

It’s crucial to establish that everyone who is genetically linked to the child, even if they are not a legal parent, is in agreement about who will (and who will not) be involved in the child’s life. This will help to avoid problems down the line.