The wealthy 50-something gay father who offered his sperm to a lesbian couple he met after placing a “Gay man wants to be a dad” newspaper advertisement has won visitation rights for his two kids, despite an initial agreement with the women that he’d only play a very minor role in their lives.
The dramatic British court battle pitted The Gays against The Lesbians, each claiming the other had no case. The lesbian couple accepted the man’s sperm donation twice, with the understanding the man would have a “little” role in raising the children. But years after the children’s births, he decided he wanted to play a more significant daddy role. The man, who placed the ad in his 30s, will now get to spend 152 days a year with his biological kids, aged 9 and 7. All along the lesbian couple argued the man was trying to usurp the parenting rights of the non-biological lesbian mother; the pair have been together for more than twenty years. But a judge knocked down the lesbians’ argument, saying it’s what’s best for the kids that matters.
A judge at Brighton County Court earlier this year awarded ‘shared residency’ orders to the mother and father and directed that the children should spend almost half the year with him, including more than 100 overnight stays. The lesbian couple challenged that ruling at the Court of Appeal, but Lady Justice Black, sitting with the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, and Lord Justice Patten, today refused to cut down on the 152 days-a-year the children spend with their father. The judge did recognise the importance of the the mother’s lover in the children’s lives when she said she should be named on the shared residency order, but otherwise dismissed the appeal.
Urging the parents to ‘put aside their differences’ for the sake of the children, Lady Justice Black said: ‘If the adults do not manage to resolve things by communicating with each other, the children inevitably suffer. The adults may also pay the price when the children are old enough to be aware of what has been going on. Describing the court battle as ‘a great shame’, the judge added: ‘It is a tremendous privilege to be involved in bringing up a child. Childhood is over all too quickly and, whilst I appreciate both sides think that they are motivated only by concern for the children, it is still very sad to see it being allowed to slip away whilst energy is devoted to adult wrangles and to litigation. What is particularly unfair is that the legacy of a childhood tainted in that way is likely to remain with the children into their own adult lives’.