Are Three Parents Better Than Two?
Recently, the Court of Appeal in England made a decision which
may have significant implications for "alternative families".
A gay man donated sperm to enable his ex wife and her civil
partner become parents. The child is now two years of
age. The mother and her partner contended that it was a
matter of agreement before the child was conceived that the
biological father would have limited parental rights and that the
child would be brought up by the mother and her civil partner in
their two parent nuclear family.
An earlier court decided that the father should have a "limited
relationship" with his son. The father argued that this was
insufficient and appealed the decision. He sought regular
contact with the child, including residential and holiday
contact. The mother and her civil partner argued that this
was not what had been agreed prior to the child's conception and
indicated that they felt "bitter and betrayed" by the father's
The appeal court agreed with the father. The judges were
of the view that the father's right to play a role in his child's
life should be recognised and that the father was "seeking to offer
a relationship of considerable value to the child". They
essentially decided that it was better for the child to have three
parents than two.
When deciding cases involving children, the courts in Scotland
as in England, are duty bound to make decisions which they believe
are in the best interests of the child. This is the rationale
which the Judges applied here, regardless of what may have been
agreed by the biological parents. In any Scottish
action involving the welfare of children, what is in the best
interests of the child is paramount. This is enshrined in the
If any of the issues affect you, obtaining specialist legal
advice is crucial. Please contact any solicitor in our Family Law Team