Sperm donor's battle for custody

Lesbian couple lose an Appeal Court fight to stop the gay father from spending time with their two children

A gay father won joint custody of the two children he had through artificial insemination with a lesbian couple.

He fathered two children with the lesbian mother, now aged seven and ten, after placing an advertisement in Gay Times 1999.  The advert 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 little involvement. I have a lot to offer."

The Court heard that the father had been involved in the child's life and had acted as a parent, by taking the children to doctor's appointments and paying their school fees.  However the relationship between the couple and father deteriorated and the mother argued to the Court that the father was trying to "marginalise" her civil partner and he was "controlling."

The mother took the case to the Court of Appeal and argued that the children needed to know where their permanent home would be.  Lady Justice Black, Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, and Lord Justice Patten, refused to overturn an order giving the father joint residence and refused to cut down on the 152 days a year spent with their father.
Leading the judgment, Lady Justice Black urged the parents to "put aside their differences" for the sake of their children.

Another gay man fights Lesbian couple to gain access to the child he fathered

Mark Hartill replied to an ad placed online for a sperm donor by Stacey Cassin and her civil partner, Kate.  The lesbian couple advertised for a donor because they could not afford treatment at a clinic.

They did not have a sperm donor agreement and instead had a "gentleman's agreement" that the father would not be involved with the baby's upbringing.  However, this soon changed when the father saw the baby girl, and wanted to be recognised as parent.

The matter will now be decided by the Court and illustrates the importance of having a Sperm Donor Agreement to set out intentions before the baby is born.

If you are a donor who would like involvement in a baby's life, then you will want to ensure your legal status as a parent is protected.  If you are a couple, like in the cases above, who do not want the donor to play a part in the child's life then you too will want something documented to set out and limit the relationship that you envisage.

For further information, please contact our family law team.

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