Lesbian wins Supreme Court fight with her former partner over their seven-year-old daughter conceived by IVF
Published 03/02/2016 | 11:16
A lesbian woman has won a Supreme Court fight with her former partner over their seven-year-old daughter.
One woman is the youngster's biological mother and sole legal parent, the other considers herself a de facto parent, judges have heard.
Their relationship broke down in 2011, more than three years after the girl was conceived by IVF treatment and born.
Judges have been told the girl was taken to Pakistan by her biological mother in early 2014.
The second woman then launched legal action and asked judges to order the youngster's return to the UK.
A High Court judge and Court of Appeal judges concluded they did not have the jurisdiction to make such an order because the girl was not habitually resident in the UK when legal proceedings were launched.
But Supreme Court justices have overturned those decisions.
They ruled on Wednesday that the girl had been habitually resident and allowed an appeal by the second woman.
The case will now return to the High Court where a judge will make decisions on what happens next.
Lawyers say the Supreme Court ruling will have implications in a number of areas.
Five Supreme Court justices had analysed evidence at a hearing in London in December.
A lawyer representing the second woman said a judge in England could now consider what was in the child's best interests.
Maria Wright, who works for Freemans Solicitors, said: "(She) feared the consequence of the High Court and Court of Appeal's decisions was that (the child) would lose her relationship with her parent entirely."
She added: "The consequence of the Supreme Court's decision is that the English court can properly consider what is in (the child's) best interests and, if appropriate, order contact or (the child's) return to England.
"Further, the Supreme Court has brought welcome clarity to the law regarding a child's habitual residence."
The five Supreme Court justices, who ruled that the child could not be identified, allowed the second woman's appeal by a three-two majority.
And the second woman said she was "relieved".
"I am very relieved that the Supreme Court has accepted that my daughter has the right to have her future considered by a court in England," she said in a statement released through Freemans Solicitors.
"It has been a very long process to get to this result, and I am delighted that someone will now be able to look at what is actually in (the child's) best interests."
She added: "I very much hope that (the child) and I will now be able to see each other again."
Lawyers had told judges that the second woman would have been unable to persuade a court in Pakistan to consider the case "because of the strength of there of negative attitudes towards that sort of adult relationship".
Judges heard that the second woman was a British woman of Indian ethnicity - and the girl's biological mother a British woman of Pakistani ethnicity.