Alternative family structure – Appeal Court reaches decision 19 Jun 2012
Appeal Court test case on the status of “alternative families” reaches decision
Last month we wrote on an intersting case being heard at the Appeal Court. A homosexual man who had fathered a child for a lebian couple was seeking to obtain more contact with his son, whom he saw for five hours once every two weeks. This was at the challenge of the boy’s biological mother and her partner who say that a pact was made at a restaurant meeting before the conception that she and her partner would fill the role of ‘primary parents’ and that he would not stand on his paternal rights.
The decison of the Appeal Court has now been reached (14th March 2012) and the father’s appeal has been allowed. His case will now be sent back to the High Court Family Divison for a judge to reasses the level of contact with his son.
Of particular interest are the comments made by the judges sitting in the Appeal Court.
Lady Justice Black said the pre-conception understanding between the three adults as to the roles each of them would play in the boy’s upbringing could not necessarily hold sway in the life of the child. The judge commented that “no matter how detailed their agreement, no matter what formalities they adopt, this is not a a dry legal contract… biology, human nature and the hand of fate are liable to undermine it and to confound their expectations”.
Lord Justice Thorpe emphasised the point that the boy’s welfare was of paramount importance and also said that “human emotions are powerful and inconstant”.
Commenting on the mothers desires to create a two parent lesbian nuclear family the judge said that “such desires may be essentially selfish and may later insufficiently weigh the welfare and developing rights of the child they have created”.
The judge categorically refused to categorise the father as a secondary parent.
“Of interest will be the decision of the High Court as to new contact arrangements and what precedent, if any this case sets. Alternative family structures are becoming more common and more widely entered into. This judgement seems to make the point that human emotion and the welfare of the child will take priority over any arrangement entered into”.
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