23 March 2015
ByAppeared in BioNews 795
A lecturer from London has been awarded nearly £40,000 in damages after his businesswoman ex-wife deceived him for over six years into believing that he was the biological father of her IVF-born son.
The couple travelled to a Spanish IVF clinic in 2004 for fertility treatment, where the man gave a sample of his sperm. However, the woman returned to the clinic with her ex-boyfriend a few months later, without her husband, where she underwent treatment using her ex-boyfriend's sperm. The child was born in late 2005, and the couple filed for divorced six months later.
Following the divorce, the man continued to look after the child when his ex-wife was working and had paid more than £80,000 in maintenance over the following years. He found out that he was not the biological father of the child in 2011, after the woman revealed the truth during a dispute over the amount of contact the man was having with the child. This was later confirmed with a DNA test.
Thomas Brudenell, the lawyer representing the man, who cannot be named, told the court that the claimant had suffered 'distress and humiliation' after being told the truth.
However, the woman, who has also not been named, argued in court that the man was aware from the very beginning that he was 'not necessarily' the child's biological father, and that he knew about her trip to the clinic with her ex-boyfriend. She also said she had never told him that he was the child's biological father.
The court also heard that the couple's marriage was in difficulties before their visit to the IVF clinic, and that they had drawn up an agreement under which the man would not have the 'normal' financial responsibility for any child. Brudenell argued that this agreement had 'upset' the woman, while the woman questioned whether any 'normal, loving, caring, husband' would have 'forced his wife' to sign such an agreement.
Judge Deborah Taylor ruled in favour of the man, finding the woman's evidence 'highly improbable and inconsistent'. She found the woman liable for 'deliberate fraudulent misrepresentation', and awarded the man £40,000 in damages for the distress suffered, loss of earnings and compensation for the maintenance he had paid.
'I don't regret any of the time I spent with my child at all. I don't regret that ever', the man told BBC Radio 4. 'But when someone actually comes along years later and spoils everything that way, you're revisiting all those experiences thinking, that wasn't right was it, and not for [the child] either'.
He has also expressed his wish to see the child again, after losing almost all contact with the child following a separate court case. 'I live in hope that when he is 18 he looks for me… and [will] be part of my life again…. He is truly missed'.