London court gives gay man parental rights over surrogate child after split in landmark verdict
A gay man from London has won parental rights over the child he had with his former partner via a surrogate following their split.
The High Court’s verdict is groundbreaking, as it marks the first time a non-biological father has been given rights in this type of case.According to The Times, the decision was made by Mrs. Justice Theis in February but has only now been made public.
While no names have been released, the same publication reports that the former couple are to be referred to as K and L. The former is their daughter’s biological father, having used his sperm to create an embryo at a US clinic back in 2017. The child, known only as N, was born in Canada in October that same year.
Canadian surrogacy laws
L’s lawyers explained to the court that he and K had been in a relationship for quite some time and had been living together in London when they decided to start a family. The pair temporarily moved to Canada as the laws tend to be similar to the UK’s regarding the surrogacy process, but there are certain benefits such as both parents’ names being cited on the original birth certificate.
In the UK, the biological mother’s name appears on the document unless the parents apply to have it removed.
K and L had applied for parental responsibility orders shortly after they returned to the UK but they had difficulties seeing the process through after their relationship began to break down and on one occasion, the police were called after they disagreed on how their daughter should be cared for.
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Nevertheless, Theis stated in court that since N had lived with both of her parents for the majority of her life so far, to refuse her from full access to them now would deny her of “the social and emotional benefits of recognition of that relationship and would not have the legal reality that matches the day-to-day reality.”
This way, N’s relationship with K and L is secured “in a lifelong way.”
She concluded: “I have no doubt, on the evidence the court has, a parental order will provide N with the security and stability her lifelong welfare needs require, and in those circumstances that order will be made.”
When asked what the unprecedented decision means in terms of similar cases in the future, Karen Holden of A City Law Firm told The Times: “[The ruling] paves the way for greater protection, but also highlights the ongoing need for urgent reform of the statute.”