Lesbian mother wins legal battle over child support
A lesbian who had to pay more child support than if she was in a heterosexual relationship has won her case at the European Court of Human Rights.
She was awarded £2,550 in damages and £15,275 after the court ruled that she had been discriminated against.
The woman, known as JM, had divorced her husband and began living with her female partner in 1998. Her ex-husband cared for their two children.
She paid around £47 a week in child support but applied for a reduction available to parents who begin a new relationship.
However, she was told that this only applied to heterosexual couples, whether married or unmarried. If she had started a relationship with a man, her payments would have been cut to around £14 a week.
At the time, gay relationships were not recognised by the law.
Her case was upheld by three British courts but was overturned by the House of Lords in 2006.
Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled: “JM could compare her situation to that of an absent parent who had formed a new relationship with a person of the opposite sex. The only point of difference between her and such persons was her sexual orientation.
‘Therefore, her maintenance obligation towards her children had been assessed differently on account of the nature of her new relationship.
“Yet, bearing in mind the purpose of the domestic regulations, which was to avoid placing an excessive financial burden on the absent parent in their new circumstances, the court could see no reason for such difference in treatment.”