The gay father, the lesbian partners and a battle over the future of two children
By VANESSA ALLEN and COLIN FERNANDEZ
Last updated at 1:38 AM on 9th November 2010
Battle: The country's most senior civil judge, Lord Neuberger, is hearing the case brought by a lesbian mother against the gay father of her children
A gay man who fathered two children with a lesbian was at the centre of a bitter ‘tug of love’ custody battle yesterday.
The mother and her civil partner took legal action after a judge ordered the children should spend almost half the year with their father, including more than 100 overnight stays.
The women argue that they are the main carers and the children should live with them, with more limited contact with the father.
The brother and sister, aged nine and seven, are ‘aware of difficulties between mummy and daddy’, the Court of Appeal was told. Relations between the women and the man broke down over claims he was domineering and controlling.
Family groups said the case highlighted the potential pitfalls of conceiving children by artificial insemination, outside of a relationship.
Yesterday the court heard that the 51-year-old man, a wealthy company director, placed an advert in the Gay Times newspaper in 1999, pleading to become a father.
It read: ‘Gay guy wants to be a dad. White, handsome, solvent 30s, professional in happy relationship, non-scene, has everything but kids.
‘Looking for a similar female couple who wants to have kids. I require a little involvement. I have a lot to offer.’
The lesbian couple replied and the children were conceived through artificial insemination.
Both women were happy for the father to have contact with the children, but have been their main carers since birth and considered themselves their parents, the court was told.
Alex Verdan QC, for the father, said the man had always been clear that he wanted to be involved in the children’s lives and upbringing.
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The barrister said the father had taken the children to doctors’ appointments and paid their school fees, adding: ‘This is not a case of two mummies.’
But the mother, 41, claimed the father had tried to ‘marginalise’ her 39-year-old partner of 20 years, despite the pair ‘marrying’ in a civil partnership ceremony. mother has accused the man of trying to marginalise her lesbian partner (file picture)
The father, who lives in a three-storey townhouse on the coast in West Sussex with his long-term boyfriend, took the case to court earlier this year. In June he was awarded a shared residence order which meant the children would spend almost half the year with him. County court judge Simon Barker QC said at the time that he had been struck by the intensity of the women’s dislike for the children’s father.
But the women appealed, claiming it was in the children’s best interests to live with them.
June Venters QC, for the women, told the Appeal Court that the children needed to know which house was their permanent home and ‘who we all are in their lives’. She said the women feared the children would be emotionally scarred by the increasingly hostile custody battle, adding that there was a lengthy history of accusation and counter-accusation between the warring sides.
The women claim the father favoured his son over his daughter when he bought the boy a puppy.
They have also accused him of trying to ‘overpower’ them.
Miss Venters said: ‘They genuinely are motivated by concerns for the children, not by hostility towards the father.’
Mr Verdan, for the father, said the women had made ‘a very hostile application’ to have the father stripped of his parental rights.
He said the father had offered to agree to a ‘three-way residency order’, to include the mother’s partner, but it had not been accepted. The trio, who have not received legal aid for their custody battle, were unavailable for comment last night.
The case will be settled by the country’s most senior civil judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice Black. They are expected to rule later this year.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘This case raises a whole host of questions about the ethics of artificial insemination by donor. Just because we have the technology to do something doesn’t necessarily make it desirable or socially beneficial.
‘It is always a recipe for disaster to try to create children to order by artificial means to satisfy the desires of natural parents who are unrelated and lack a shared commitment to parenting.
Complicated; The children were fathered using sperm from a man who advertised in the gay times:
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1327704/Gay-father-battles-lesbian-partners-custody-children-court.html#ixzz14mLMoKvX