Modern Families In Switzerland - 10 Things You Need To Know

Author:Mr Michael Wells-Greco
Profession:Charles Russell Speechlys

Building a family as an LGBTI+ parent takes planning. Whether your family grows through IVF, a co-parenting arrangement or surrogacy, the addition of a new family member is life changing.

However, the law on parentage and parental authority (or responsibility) in Switzerland does not yet provide a legal framework of protection from birth for all children living in diverse households. Given that reality, it is important to consider the legal aspects of having and raising children. This will enable you to put in place appropriate documentation which will provide a firm foundation and protect your family in the future.

  1. Will you and your partner have all the rights and responsibilities that you both need to care for your child under Swiss law?

    Probably not.

    The law dictates who the legal parents are and who has parental authority (which is the right to make and be involved in decisions about a child), irrespective of what the adults have agreed. Under Swiss law a child can have no more than two legal parents. The birth mother is always the legal mother and will have parental authority. The other legal parent is either her spouse or the genetic father. If the parents are unmarried, the genetic father will usually not automatically have parental authority from the child's birth. Swiss law does not therefore protect LGBTI+ couples conceiving or wishing to have a child together.

    Whether someone is a legal parent, or has parental authority, can have an important impact on their rights and responsibilities in respect of their child, as well as being emotionally significant for the child and the child's parents.

    Whatever your situation, it is worth checking the legal position and to put steps in place to establish legal parentage and acquire parental authority, if one or both of you do not have it. For many LGBTI+ parents in Switzerland, the only legal route to acquire joint legal parentage and joint parental authority is by way of a court process called second parent adoption.

  2. Do we need a parenting or donor agreement?

    Yes. If you are planning a known donation, or a parenting arrangement where one of you will not be a legal parent from your child's birth, it is important to set strong foundations.

    You should not rush into trying to conceive, and make sure that you discuss the roles you each intend to have. Be as clear as you can about what you want, and be honest with each other and yourselves. In a known donor arrangement it is important to talk...

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