A recent ruling by the High Court Family Division has underscored the rise of the 3 parent family. Even though sperm donors may not have any legally recognised relationship with the child they have created the Court has ruled that they have a right to apply for contact.
Due to another important ruling 4 years ago, lesbian couples already enjoy parental rights, with the non-birth mother being treated like a normal father in the eyes of the law.
3 couples were involved in this most recent ruling. Both partners in a gay couple donated sperm to two lesbian couples. All six were friends and although informal arrangements relating to the children had been agreed upon well, no legally binding agreements had been signed. There came a point at which each man wanted more contact with the children they had fathered in than their respective mothers would allow and as a result applications to the court were made for both contact and residency rights over the children.
The case highlighted the need for the law to adapt to the changing character of the family unit. Indeed, whilst the judge accepted that it would be wrong to award the men residency rights for the effect that it would have on the children’s settled family, he ruled that they should be given contact rights. Future cases of a similar nature will need to consider various factors including the possible affect on the child’s wellbeing, the relationship between donor and child and the reasons behind the application.
The ruling serves as a stark reminder to all sperm donors that they may develop a deep affection for the children they father even if they were certain that such feelings would never arise. Equally, couples must ensure that they guard against claims from sperm donors by drawing up legally binding donor agreements prior to the birth of the child.
Call our experts for advice on child contact or residency disputes
Disputes over contact and residency arrangements for children are often very difficult to resolve particularly following divorce. Our team of specialist family lawyers are there to offer expert legal support during your dispute, And, what’s more, to our team are trained jointly as family mediators/lawyers – family mediation is an approach which people are finding increasingly helpful when it comes to problems with legal arrangements for children.
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