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Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception MSc


 

Court orders contact between girls and sperm donor

19 October 2015

By Chee Hoe Low

Appeared in BioNews 824

A UK High Court judge has ordered that the biological father of a teenage girl can maintain indirect contact with her, despite her opposition to the Court's intervention.

The 14-year-old girl, identified only as A for legal reasons, was conceived and born as a result of known-donor fertilisation. Her 10-year-old younger sister, B, was also conceived the same way from the same sperm donor. Both girls currently live with their biological mother and her civil partner. The biological father and his civil partner have not had any routine contact with the children for many years.

The ruling came after an 'unusually complex litigation' that started in 2008, when A's fathers applied to the High Court to have, among other things, contact with both girls (reported in BioNews 779). The fathers subsequently abandoned their application for direct contact with the girls and instead asked the judge to make an order allowing 'indirect contact'.

A opposed the application, stating that she 'resents the involvement of the court' in the matter. A's lawyer argued that A is now mature enough to be allowed to 'reach her own conclusions'. The court observed there was 'less resistance' in relation to B, but both girls told the court that the long-running legal proceeding is 'ruining' their childhoods, and that their fathers were 'solely to blame' for the protracted litigation.

Their mothers also opposed the application, contending that the girls are progressing well in their lives with the existing arrangements without their fathers.

Justice Cobb ruled that indirect and limited contact between both girls and their fathers would be in their best interests. Referring to the children's biological parents and their respective civil partners as 'fathers' and 'mothers', he said that all four of them are effe ctively parents to the two children, and that an order for indirect contact was 'better than no order'.

While the judge recognised that the children were receiving 'good-quality physical care' with their mothers and had progressed well at school, he nevertheless ruled that 'the significant void in their lives is the lack of any meaningful relationship with their fathers'.

'I remain clearly of the view that the fathers have something of real value and importance to add to the lives of the girls,' said Justice Cobb in his judgement. 'I continue to hope, though with increasing pessimism, that A and B will one day come to recognise this.'

He ordered that the fathers would be allowed to contact the girls via letters or greeting cards at specific times of the year. The biological father of the children would also be given access to the girls' annual school reports. The mothers are ordered to facilitate such indirect contacts, which should last for a duration of two years.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

21 December 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The High Court has refused a man's application for direct contact with a child born to a same-sex couple using his sperm...

21 September 2015 - by Andrew Berkley 
There is no excuse for the administrative incompetence of fertility clinics that has resulted in legal parenthood uncertainty for at least 84 couples, but are medical providers the ideal professionals to seek consent for legal parenthood?...
14 September 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has spoken of 'widespread incompetence' in the fertility sector and has questioned the adequacy of the regulatory framework overseen by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority...
14 September 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The UK's High Court has ruled that single parents cannot apply for a parental order to become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy...
14 September 2015 - by Dr Reuven Brandt 
A UK appeals court recently granted an egg donor, A, a new hearing in her petition for a shared residency order for the twins conceived using her ova. A was seeking the shared residency order as a means of acquiring parental responsibility for the twins...
10 November 2014 - by Ari Haque 
Actor Jason Patric has been declared legal parent after a two-year long legal challenge to a ruling that declared him simply a sperm donor for his son...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Comment (redwonder - Updated on 21/10/2015)
For crying out loud!  Fathers?  Mothers? The girls  father should be sharing custody all along.

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