Friday, February 01, 2013

Re G; Re Z: Sperm donors given leave to apply for contact

Mr Justice Baker
I'm not going to say a lot about this one, as it has already gained significant coverage elsewhere (see, e.g., here and here), no doubt with much more to follow.

In a nutshell, Mr Justice Baker has given leave to two sperm donors to apply for contact with their three children, who are being brought up by two lesbian couples. The ruling is said to be the first of its kind.

In the course of his judgment, Mr Justice Baker stated that in dealing with such applications, the court must take into consideration the nature of the application, the sperm donor’s connection to the child and the potential for disruption to the child’s life. However, the court will be cautious to protect the de novo family and their Article 8 rights to a family life.

The solicitor for one of the lesbian couples, Kevin Skinner of Goodman Ray, indicated that the likelihood of such applications being made by donors might be reduced by the parties agreeing plans before fertility treatment commences. He said:
"Although the judge’s decision makes clear that the family unit should be protected, the possibility of donors being able to apply for courts orders will be a scary prospect for many parents, both gay and straight.

"What is crucial is that anyone planning on having a child through the use of fertility treatment should make sure that proper plans are in place before the process begins.

"If a known donor is going to be used, then the party’s intentions should be clearly recorded."
I'll give a link to the full judgment as soon as it's available.

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UPDATE: The judgment has now been published on Bailii, as S v D & E [2013] EWHC 134 (Fam). In his conclusion, Mr Justice Baker made it clear that the granting of leave does not, of course, mean that any substantive order for contact will be made in either case. He said:
"The respondents will continue to deploy a number of the arguments that have been raised at this hearing concerning their autonomy as parents, the integrity of their family units, the risk of disruption to those units and consequential harm to the children. Those arguments are manifestly material considerations for the court in the exercise of its welfare jurisdiction."
I note also that it was always part of the plans in both cases that there should be some contact between the children and their biological fathers.

2 comments:

  1. Didn't L J Thorpe have an input into this? One wonders of the effect on Oocyte and sperm donations and the anonymous donors rights in future?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a dire warning against trying to do these things informally. If you do not jump through the right hoops you cannot exclude applications from the biological father for contact on the one hand or applications for money from the biological mother - or CMEC - on the other. Which is as it should be.

    ReplyDelete

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