Groundbreaking judgement on "Donor Dads" highlights need for documentation at the outset.
The recent case involving three couples who were all friends - two lesbian couples and one gay couple - has resulted in two sperm donor fathers being given leave to apply for contact with their biological children, despite there being no legal relationship between those parents and their offspring.
One of the gay men was a biological father to both the children of one lesbian couple, whilst the other gay man was the biological father of the other lesbian couple's child. The sperm donations were made informally, with no recourse to solicitors nor anything put in writing. At the point at which the fathers requested more contact with their children, the friendship began to deteriorate.
The fathers of the children concerned applied for leave to apply for both contact and residence. Mr Justice Baker in Re G;Re Z, allowed leave for the fathers to apply for contact under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, emphasised the importance in future cases of considering the contact the parents had had to date with their biological children - in this case, the adults concerned were all friends and the children had met the individuals on many occasions. The person's connection to the child and the disruption which might be caused by their introduction into the child's life must be considered.
Leave for the fathers to apply for residence was not granted, and Mr Justice Baker also said that the right to respect for 'private and family life' under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights should be protected by future legal decisions.
The obvious conclusion to this case, and one which was drawn by the solicitor acting for one of the mothers, is that it is vital to formalise any type of sperm donation with legal advice and documentation. However, there is no doubting the enormity of this decision, and many donors must now be feeling that the way is open for them to at least attempt contact with their biological offspring through the legal precedent set by this case.
By Claire Clark on 5 Feb 2013, 15:51 PM