Lesbian couple forced to recognise biological father's rights

01/08/2013
Submitted by ILGA-Europe

A court in France’s western city of Nantes has granted the biological father of a lesbian couple’s child visiting rights, raising uneasy questions about how to share parental rights between gay partners and biological parents.

Marriage and adoption may have become legal for gay couples in France, but family affairs are not getting any simpler, as a new case of fights over parental rights has shown.

A court in France’s western city of Nantes has granted visiting rights to the biological father of a lesbian couple’s baby.

The man, a friend of both women, originally acted as an informal sperm donor for the lesbian couple two years ago, then recognised the child seven months after its birth “because he wanted to be a father,” according to his lawyer.

“Today he is trying to build a relationship with the child he does not know,” added the lawyer, Magali Castelli-Maurice.

On Monday, a family affairs judge granted the father visiting rights, with the possibility of eventual shared custody.

The two women do not intend to appeal the decision, which is “in line with existing laws,” the mother’s lawyer, Anne Bouillon, told AFP.

The father’s lawer, Magali Castelli-Maurice, confirmed that the demand for parental rights was standard, adding: “What is different here is that the lesbian couple refused the father’s presence.”

The child's biological mother told the judge that her family included her female partner and herself. “We had not expected this man to claim rights on the child,” she added. “It has overturned our family.”

The issue is about inventing a new form of parenting, with more than two parents, as the mother’s lawyer pointed out.

“This man did my client and her partner a favour, then he changed his mind and requested his place as a father; so be it – he is doing it in a legal framework,” she said.

“This raises the question of what a family is, and how homosexual families have to be prepared to organise parenting between the different partners,” she added.

The lawyer explained that the mother’s partner could adopt the child, thus acquiring rights as a step-parent, but the father would need to give his approval for the adoption.

This would not have been the case with medically assisted reproduction, the lawyer pointed out, “because sperm donors remain anonymous.”


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