A gay man has won paternal access to a child he conceived with a
lesbian to whom he was once married.
The man, who has not been named, already had minimal contact with
the child - five hours per fortnight - but requested overnight
rights and additional freedom to take him on holiday.
Yesterday, Lady Justice Black and two other judges at London's
Court of Appeal ruled in his favour.
She claimed that the agreement between the adults was not "a dry,
legal contract" and that
the phrase 'sperm donor' should be dropped because it wrongly
suggests a biological father is giving his child away, the Daily
The decision comes despite the child's mother and her partner
saying the applicant's request is a breach of an agreement "made
During the hearing, 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",
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, his only son, who is now two
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
Ruling in the case, Lord Justice Thorpe said: "[The father's]
involvement in the creation of [the child] and his commitment to
[the child] from birth suggest that he may be seeking to offer a
relationship of considerable value.
"It is generally accepted that a child gains by having two
parents. It does not follow that the addition of a third is
necessarily disadvantageous. Human emotions are powerful and
inconstant. B and C may have had the desire to create a two-parent
lesbian nuclear family completely intact and free from
"But such desires may be essentially selfish and may later
insufficiently weigh the welfare and developing rights of the child
that they have created."
Currently, British family law fails to offer equal access to both
mothers and fathers - something men's activists slam as
Now, yesterday's ruling has been welcomed by parents - and
grandparents - campaigning for equal rights.
Jane Keir, Head of Family Law at Kingsley Napley - who represented
the father, told the PinkPaper.com: "The decision is a welcome
reminder that, whatever the family structure, the focus must always
remain what is best for the particular child concerned. Adult
preconceptions and archetypes of family life might inform, but must
never displace, that simple but fundamental enquiry.
"The father hopes the decision will assist in any family situation
where a child stands to benefit from having good quality contact
with important adults other than those he lives with - one example
"Such adults might have a great deal to offer a child through a
developing regime of contact, which need not in any way undermine
the child's primary carers, home life or well-being."
Photo from Wikipedia.