Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Gay couple win surrogacy battle over baby girl
A High Court Judge has ruled that a baby girl conceived through surrogacy should be placed with her father and his male partner after her biological mother was deemed “homophobic”.
Ms Justice Alison Russell ruled that the mother had lied over the informal arrangement for the child, now 15 months old, and had always intended to keep the girl for herself.
In H & S (Surrogacy Agreement), the child in question, ‘M’, was born in January last year following an artificial insemination procedure between ‘H’, her father, and her mother ‘S’.
S was a Romanian national and H was also born in Romania, but has a Hungarian background. S is a committed Orthodox Christian, H is in a “long-term committed relationship” with a man called ‘B’.
The father is now a naturalised British citizen and he and ‘S’ have known each other for more than 20 years. They even shared a house at one point.
‘S’ was formerly married to a British National and the two children from that marriage now live with their father in Kent following “protracted proceedings”.
Ruling, Ms Justice Russell noted that the case typified the problems associated with such informal arrangements over surrogacy and how easily these can break down.
Ms Justice Russell said the mother had used “stereotypical images and descriptions of gay men” and had “insinuated that gay men in same-sex relationships behave in a sexually disinhibited manner”.
The woman had also implied that the gay couple were “sexually disloyal to each other.” However, the judge noted that she found the two men to be “clearly devoted” to one another.
Ms Justice Russell described the mother as “duplicitous and manipulative”. She had, declared the Judge, deceived the couple in order to get pregnant.
“I conclude that she must have either deliberately misled the applicants about her intentions or changed her mind as the pregnancy progressed. On the balance of probabilities … I find that ‘S’ deliberately misled the applicants in order to conceive a child for herself rather than changing her mind at a later date.”
The woman had had the girl baptised in defiance of a court order, and then attempted to conceal this.
The Judge declared: “The perceptible ease with which ‘S’ lied to the court, the defiant way that she has given evidence about the baptism along with the obdurate stance she adopted over the baptism give lie to any suggestion that she is the intimidated martyr to motherhood that she would like to have her supporters believe.”
‘M’ should be sent to live with her father and his partner, she ruled, with the mother only allowed occasional supervised contact.
Family law solicitors who combine expertise with understanding