Lesbian U.K. Couple Fight Gay Father Over Co-Parenting
A London gay man and lesbian couple are in appeals court over a two-year-old boy. The boy's birthmother and the man conceived the child but the man now wants to have a larger role in the boy's life than what was allegedly originally discussed.
Before the boy was conceived, the mother claims the two made a deal that she and her partner would be the child's parents and the biological father would have limited contact with their son, the UK newspaper the Telegraph reported.
The father, who was once the birthmother's best friend and was even married to her, now wants overnight and holiday contact with his son, leaving the two women feeling "bitter and betrayed."
A three-member appeals court will have to decide if the child should have "three parents and two homes" or if he will remain solely with the lesbian parents.
"This appeal raises important issues relating to the court's approach to children born into alternative families," said Alex Verdan, who is representing the father.
The father claims that he can currently see the boy five hours every two weeks but wants to eventually be able to have overnight visits and take him on vacation.
Verdan told the court that the father does not want to become a fulltime parent or "undermine the role of the mother and her partner" but wants to have enough contact with him so he can build a relationship.
"The father described vividly to the court the pleasure and joy that he feels in interacting with his son when they see each other and the boy's responses to him, Verdan said. "The father wants to play a full part in his development. He has a strong desire to develop a father-son relationship with the boy, with time spent alone with him. The father was at the hospital for his son's birth and held him shortly afterwards. He visited and bathed him afterwards and visited at Christmas and was later at his christening."
Charles Howard, who is representing the lesbian couple, said that the women would have used an anonymous sperm donor if they knew the father would have requested to have a relationship with the boy.
"Conflict has raged around this little boy since his birth," Howard said. "These kind of arrangements seem to give rise to extraordinary tensions and a sense of betrayal."
Howard also said that during the meeting the biological parents "clearly agreed" that the couple would raise the boy.
"It is right that that agreement was reached; the court has to show more than lipservice to it and must give it considerable weight, otherwise there's no point having such an agreement," Howard told the judges.
"The ideal upbringing for a child is a stable home in which the parents love each other and had together chosen to bring a child into the world," he added. "This is the upbringing which the mother and her partner always wanted to create for this little boy."