Tuesday 25 October 2016

Baby girl should live with father and boyfriend - not her mother, judge rules

Brian Farmer

Published 06/05/2015 | 12:15

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the two men after hearings in London and Birmingham.
A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the two men after hearings in London and Birmingham.

A woman who gave birth to a girl after a man agreed to donate sperm has lost a family court fight over the youngster's future.

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She said she had entered into an artificial conception agreement with the man which would see her acting as the "main parent and carer".

But the man said the agreement was that he and his male partner would "co-parent" the youngster - with the woman continuing to "play a role".

He said the woman had agreed to be a surrogate mother.

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the two men after hearings in London and Birmingham.

Ms Justice Russell has also criticised the woman.

The judge said the woman had used "offensive language" including "stereo-typical images and descriptions of gay men" - and had "insinuated that gay men in same-sex relationships behave in a sexually dis-inhibited manner" and were "sexually disloyal to each-other".

And she said the woman had "disrupted" the men's evidence at court hearings. She said proceedings had to be "interrupted on numerous occasions" when the men were speaking so that the woman could express breast milk. She said interruptions were "noticeably" fewer and shorter when the woman gave evidence.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling following hearings in January and February.

The judge said nothing could be reported which could identify the little girl - who celebrated her first birthday earlier this year.

Ms Justice Russell said she had to decide what was in the little girl's best interests.

"(The girl) was not conceived by two people in a sexual relationship," said the judge. "The pregnancy was contrived with the aim of a same-sex couple having a child to form a family assisted by a friend; this was ostensibly acquiesced to by all parties at the time the agreement was entered into and conception took place.

"Therefore (the girl) living with (the two men) and spending time with (the woman) from time to time fortunately coincides with the reality of her conception and accords with (the girl's) identity and place within her family."

She added: "(The girl) should live with her father and his partner as it is in her best interests to do so."

Ms Justice Russell made an order barring the woman "removing" the girl from the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales without the consent of the men.

She said the woman had used the "emotive image" of a "child being removed from her mother's breast" to gain sympathy.

"(The woman) has consistently done all she can to minimise the role that (the sperm donor) had in the child's life and to control and curtail his contact with his daughter," said the judge.

"Far from being a child that she conceived with her good friend, as she describes it, her actions have always been of a woman determined to treat the child as solely her own."

Ms Justice Russell added: "(The woman) has repeatedly used the emotive image of a child being removed from her mother's breast and refused breast milk as part of her attempts to gain sympathy and opprobrium for the (two men) and the court.

"It is not in the interests of any child to use breast-feeding ... to curtail that child's interaction with another parent or to deny her an opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with that parent.

"I have little doubt that that is what (the woman) set out to do, at least in part, and it was an action which was contrary to (the girl's) best interests and emotional well-being."

Ms Justice Russell said the woman had been "very assertive and at times almost aggressive" during court proceedings - whereas the two men had "sat very quietly".

"(The woman) disrupted the (men's) evidence," said the judge.

"For the first three days of the hearing in London and particularly while (the men) were giving their evidence the flow of the proceedings had to be interrupted on numerous occasions for (her) to express breast milk.

"When the case was heard in Birmingham and when (the woman) was giving her evidence the interruptions were noticeably fewer, shorter and took place when the court was adjourned."

The judge added: "Throughout the proceedings (the woman) has quite deliberately and explicitly sought to portray herself as a victim. Indeed she describes herself as such and claims that she is discriminated against as a mother and, more particularly as a breast-feeding mother."

She went on: "At the same time (the woman) used offensive language including stereotypical images and descriptions of gay men to portray the (the men). For example she repeatedly insinuated that gay men in same-sex relationships behave in a sexually dis-inhibited manner and are habitually sexually disloyal to each other.

"(The woman) has continually described the relationship between (the men) as 'on-off' and likely to be short lived. There was no evidence at all before the court to support this; indeed the two men were, and are, clearly devoted to each other."

The judge said information about the case had been published on social media.

She said a tweet, thought to have been written by associate of the woman and posted in January had read: "Wealthy gay couple force child from good mother's breast setting bad precedent..."

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