Welfare of child needs to be taken into consideration
News article published on: 20th June 2012
A v B and C (Lesbian Co-Parents: Role of Father) (2012) concerned a dispute about what level of contact the father should have and what role he should play in the child’s life. The mother was in a lesbian relationship and both mothers wanted to restrict the role the father played in the child’s life.
The mothers applied for a joint residence order and specific issue order to regulate the father’s exercise of his parental responsibly. The father applied for a defined contact order. At first instance the mothers were granted a joint residence order and the father was granted a defined contact order. The father appealed the decision on the basis of what was said in the judgment. At first instance the judge made it clear in his judgment that the child would not have three parents in two homes and also indicated that there would be no great progression of contact in the future. It was also made clear that the father would not be granted overnight staying contact in the future.
On appeal it was found that the trial judge had erred in ruling out future progression of contact. Thorpe LJ explained that he would not approve the idea of principal and secondary parents.
Meanwhile Black LJ said that “what must dictate is the welfare of the child and not the interests of the adults” and disapproved of the suggestion that great weight was to be attached to the wishes of the main carers compared to the role of the absent parent, or even agreement in the past about that role.
On appeal what was clear is that each case is fact specific and an arbitrary approach should not be taken when considering alternative families.
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