A man living in London cannot be declared the legal parent of a toddler born to surrogacy, the High Court has ruled.
The case concerned a former same sex couple whose marriage had broken down. While still together they had commissioned a child from a surrogate mother in the United States. The resulting daughter was born in the state of Missouri.
Now three, she lives with her biological father in New York but his ex-husband in London was keen to remain part of her life and sought a legal declaration that he was the girl’s other parent.
But, sitting at the High Court, Mrs Justice Theis said she was unable to issue one because he had failed to establish that he was habitually resident in England and Wales. She described the case as full of “legal complexities”.
As the biological father also had no ties to the UK, having lived in the United States for a number of years, the toddler’s legal parent under English law would continue to be her surrogate mother the Judge explained.
The hearing was the latest in a series of legal disputes between the former couple, who had let their daughter down she continued.
“In my judgment, (the men) have each abdicated their responsibilities to do this to the detriment of [the girl’s] lifelong welfare needs, particularly those relating to her identity.”
“Her legal status is precious and important, not something that can or should be treated irresponsibly as part of the inevitable maelstrom following a relationship breakdown.”
Nevertheless, the divorced couple had, she noted, begun to express a willingness to mediate and explore ways of allowing the London resident to see the girl.
Read the ruling here.