Lesbian couple in custody battle over twins
Two women who had a lesbian relationship are embroiled in a legal battle over their five-year-old twins.
Judges have heard how the girls were born after the first woman donated eggs - fertilised by an artificial donor - so the second woman could become pregnant.
The judges have been told there were "what may best be called 'scenes'" as the women's relationship ended.
Since the split the girls have lived with the second woman - who gave birth to them, but is now in a civil partnership with a third woman. However the biological parent wants to share their care.
The dispute has been considered by a county court judge in Portsmouth and the Court of Appeal.
Now, in a judgment issued this week appeal judges said the women had become "mistrustful" of each other.
The judges warned that the childhood of the twins was being permitted to “slip away” amid the women’s “wrangles”.
The Appeal Court ruled that there should be a fresh hearing in a county court so a judge can decide whether to make a shared residence order.
Detail emerged in the ruling published following a hearing in London. None of the people involved were identified.
The court heard that the two women met in the 1990s and initially had an "intimate relationship". Their relationship later became platonic but they continued to share a house until October 2012.
The judges said the twins, who were born in the summer of 2008, called the second woman "mummy" and the first woman a "pet name".
The first women also gave birth to a daughter, in November 2012, having used embryos left over from the process which resulted in the second woman becoming pregnant with the twins.
The judges said the first woman had suggested she was "going to see if she could have her story published in the press".
The second woman's response had been that such a move was "calculated to distress her personally and embarrass her professionally".
The judges urged the women to “reach agreement” over their dispute, adding that a further court hearing should be avoided “if at all possible”.
In a judgment also signed by Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Kitchin, Lady Justice Black wrote: “Childhood is over all too quickly and, whilst I appreciate that both sides think that they are motivated only by concern for the children, it is still very sad to see it being allowed to slip away whilst energy is devoted to adult wrangles and to litigation."
“What is particularly unfair is that the legacy of a childhood tainted in this way is likely to remain with the children into their own adult lives.”