19 October 2015
ByAppeared 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.