A gay man who fathered a child with a lesbian couple and petitioned the courts to grant him more paternal access has won increased rights to involvement in the boy’s life.
The Court of Appeal in London said the two-year-old boy’s best interests had to be weighed alongside the father’s right to involvement in his life and that family arrangements should not be the matter of a “dry legal contract”.
The court dispute stemmed from an arrangement made between the gay father and the two women who had been raising the boy.
The man had married one of the lesbians before they had the child in order to appease her parents, who wanted the child to be born in wedlock and had difficulty accepting her sexuality.
Drawing up their parenting arrangements “over dinner”, by the time the boy was born the father had been calling for greater involvement in his life.
The Guardian quotes the Court of Appeal judges saying a “two-parent lesbian nuclear family” could be “essentially selfish and may later insufficiently weigh the welfare and developing rights of the child”.
Although an arrangement had been made before the boy’s birth, the judges accepted that emotions would not remain fixed in the course of such a scenario.
The father was limited to seeing the boy for five hours each fortnight. Though the boy would know he was his father, he would be have a “secondary” relationship, a decision which was upheld by a lower court.
Lord Justice Thorpe, Lady Justice Black and Sir John Chadwick overturned that decision and ruled the family should have a joint residence order with parental responsibility given to the boy’s biological mother.
Lady Justice Black said: “Circumstances change and adjustments must be made. And above all, what must dictate is the welfare of the child and not the interests of the adults.”
Similarly, Lord Justice Thorpe said the father “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.”