A Judge has described two young sisters as irredeemably marred by a long and expensive custody dispute between two sets of gay parents.
The dispute arose when a gay couple agreed to donate sperm to a lesbian couple who wanted children. After the children were born the two couples could not agree which of the four parents would have contact with the children and on what basis. This led to the two fathers applying to court for rights to see the girls.
The legal proceedings that followed lasted over six years and cost all parties involved both financially and emotionally.
The judge described the mothers as providing the girls with a vibrant and educational environment but were guilty of excluding anyone who disagreed with them. The fathers on the other hand were also accused by the Judge of “raising the temperature” in the dispute by making claims such as the children’s lives were at risk.
Mr Justice Cobb sitting at the Family Division of the High Court ruled that the children would remain living with their mothers because to move them would have a devastating effect on them. He also ruled that whilst the fathers would have contact with the younger child they would only have indirect (written) contact with the older child because she had become convinced that she wanted no relationship with them.
This case is an example of a case where a dispute between parents has become incredibly harmful to the children. Whilst it shows the difficulties involved when families are created by known-donor artificial insemination it also has elements of many cases where there is a separation of two parents from a more traditional family set up.
Ultimately all parties involved suffered as a result of this case but the main losers here were the children.
At Higgins Miller we actively promote the resolution of such disputes by alternatives to court such as mediation or collaborative law. If you have separated from your partner and need advice about arrangements for your children please contact us for more information.