X (A Child): Biological father refused direct contact with child born following artificial insemination
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What should be the role of the biological father in the life of a child born following artificial insemination? The question was considered by Mrs Justice Theis DBE in the recent case X (A Child : child arrangements order).
The case concerned the second application by the biological father, 'W', for direct contact with the child, 'X', who is now aged 6. As Mrs Justice Theis explained, X was conceived following artificial insemination that took place at the home of the respondents, Y and Z, with Y using W's sperm. At that time Y and Z were civil partners.
The extent of W's role in X's life remained in dispute after X's birth, with W seeking to rely on what he understood to be a co-parent role, which was not shared by Y and Z. Although W spent some time with X after her birth, the adult relationship became more difficult with the result that Y and Z as X's legal parents stopped W's contact with X and he last saw her in September 2014.
W first applied for direct contact in 2015, but his application was refused, and an order was made for annual indirect contact only.
W re-applied for permission to make an application for a child arrangements order in August 2019, initially seeking to have direct contact six times a year. Permission was granted. The application was opposed by Y, with whom X lives following Y's separation from Z. Z took a neutral stance.
W relied in particular on X's rights to know who her biological parent is and to spend time with him. Y did not consider X spending time with W was in her interests at this stage, and described the steps she had taken and the advice she had sought about how to make sure X had a full understanding of her background.
Y also sought a s.91(14), to extend until after X moves school in 2025 and allow her a period of time to settle in.
Mrs Justice Theis concluded that X's welfare needs would be met by the court refusing W's application for an order to spend time with X. Her reasons included the following:
1. The need for X to have information about her background and identity, including her genetic identity, is not a right that exists irrespective of her welfare - it is an important part of any welfare evaluation.
2. She accepted the evidence of Y that she had sought and taken advice about how to meet X's needs in relation to her background, and she had every confidence that if X said she wanted to meet or have some contact with W Y would take such steps, in consultation with Z, to meet that request from X in accordance with her welfare needs.
3. There was a real risk that if W did have any time with X it is very likely he would seek an increase in the time and his involvement in X's life, which would, in her judgment, put at risk her current stability.
As to the s.91(14) application, W accepted Y's position, and therefore an order was made until March 2026.
You can read the full judgment here.