A gay man is fighting for greater paternal access to a child he
fathered with a lesbian he was once married to, according to
The Court of Appeal has been asked to decide whether the father
should have more parental access, something the child's mother and
partner are saying is a breach of an agreement "made over
The father, who has not been identified, has requested overnight
and holiday contact with the two year-old boy.
Subsequently, the mother and her partner claim they have been
"betrayed" by the request.
The case has become a reminder of the sanctions surrounding
parental rights for gays and lesbians who conceive children outside
of formal medical settings.
According to The Telegraph, the court heard that the father
currently has five hours visiting contact with the boy each
fortnight, but wants this gradually increased to the point where he
can have his son to stay overnight and take him on holiday.
Alex Verdan, QC for the father, denied suggestions this was an
attempt to "marginalise" the mother's partner and insisted there
had been no "clear agreement", pre-conception.
Verdan emphasised that the father has no desire to undermine the
role of the mother and her partner as the boy's primary carers, but
wants sufficient contact with the boy to enable a "developing
relationship" with his only son, The Telegraph add.
However, the women disagree, arguing that a three-parent family
was never part of the plan.
Charles Howard QC, for the mother and her partner, said they would
have opted for an anonymous sperm donor if they knew the father
would try to gain greater involvement.
British law currently states that donors who donate their sperm
through a licensed clinic are not normally treated as being legal
parents of the children they help conceive. This means that
clinic donors cannot be held financially responsible for
maintaining their genetic children, and nor will their
donor-conceived children have any rights of inheritance from
As detailed on the Stonewall website, a donor who donates sperm
outside the context of a licensed fertility clinic (for example, a
friend or a donor found through a website online) does not acquire
this automatic protection and may be treated as the legal father of
Currently, British family law fails to offer equal access to both
mothers and fathers - something men's activists describe as
Commenting on this case is Tanya Roberts, a partner in the family
office at Charles Russell LLP, told PinkPaper.com: "The recent case
concerning a lesbian couple wishing to exclude the biological
father of their son makes interesting reading and debate. It is
very difficult to see how a relationship with his natural father
could be anything but a positive experience for the child and how
excluding the father could be in the boy's best interests.
"The mother's case that one stable home without shuttling
backwards and forwards is more important than the boy seeing his
father does not seem persuasive. Obviously we only have what we can
read in the press at this stage and there may be more to it than
that but on the face of it he has three people that genuinely want
to care for him and look after him and so to exclude one whatever
the 'agreement' at the time seems unacceptable.
"Half the families in England are 'shuttling' children backwards
and forwards but it is still better for the children than not
seeing one of their parents at all."
Last week, the government announced plans to re-draft family law
legislation to improve access and paternal rights for men.