A man who donated sperm to help a lesbian woman conceive has been grated parental responsibility.
In JB v KS, the parents made contact on a ‘co-parenting’ site, with the aim of conceiving a child. The father was heterosexual but “found it difficult to meet women and to develop relationships”.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Hayden explained:
“[The father] told me that he saw some opportunity to parent a child opened up by this particular website. It seems to me, listening to him give evidence, that, like so many interactions by people on the internet, part of his aspirations were grounded in reality whilst others were mere fantasy.”
Following the man’s donation, the woman fell pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.
The mother agreed that the father could see his son but became concerned when he began to claim to other people that they were in fact involved in a relationship, introducing her to his parents as his girlfriend. When she broke off contact, he applied for a parental responsibility order. This would confirm his legal status as the baby’s legal father, conferring paternal rights and duties on him.
The child’s legal guardian supported the father’s application, saying it would merely be an acknowledgement of the father’s role in his son’s life. His application was granted, after the parents were able to come to some substantial agreements regarding future contact between the father and the child on the second day of the hearing – including the introduction of unsupervised contact and contact during school holidays when the boy was older.
It would have been wrong, said the Judge, to treat the case in the same ways as a birth resulting from a conventional union, but the parents had managed to achieve a respectful relationship which would endure, he believed. He also did not believe that the father would use his newly parental responsibility to undermine the mother.
The Judge declared:
“This case has a lengthy litigation history. That is always sad where the welfare of a child is involved. It is particularly so where two highly committed and instinctively skilful parents, who otherwise have an enormous amount to offer a child, fallout and misdirect their energies into the litigation process.”
The father’s name would now be added to the child’ birth certificate,
Read the full judgement here.