I am a mother of one-year old twin girls. I also happen to be in a same-sex marriage, which led to some challenges and obstacles when my daughters were born last year. Currently, in Jersey, when a lesbian couple have a child (through assisted reproduction), only the birth mother is named on the birth certificate and is recognised as a legal parent. In contrast, in the UK, the birth mother’s spouse or civil partner is also named on the birth certificate and therefore has parental responsibility. The situation in Jersey represents an inequality, as when different-sex couples register a birth, the husband is automatically registered as a parent. Due to the inequality that exists in Jersey, my wife and I had to go to court to obtain parental responsibility for myself.
My wife and I had spoken about starting a family for many years. After marrying in the UK in 2015 we felt that we were in the right position to bring children into a stable and loving relationship. The IVF journey was long, stressful and very costly, and during this time we moved to Jersey.
The process of going to court to obtain parental responsibility also took time and money (in legal costs), at a time when we wanted to focus our time and resources on raising our two beautiful babies. During this period of time, when we were going through the legal process, our daughters were left in a very risky position. As the law stands in Jersey, our daughters could have been left parentless if anything had happened to my wife before our court date. I have also found this process very difficult on a personal level. The day when two parents go to register the birth of their child / children, should be an exciting, celebratory day. For me, it was tinged with sadness. I looked on, as the registrar recorded our daughters as only having one parent (my wife), even though they were conceived using my eggs and we had been through the whole journey together as a couple.
I believe that the law in Jersey needs to change, in order to address this inequality and most importantly to protect children. Potentially, some fairly straightforward amendments to the existing Children (Jersey) Law 2002 could resolve this.