The woman in her 40s, and her civil partner, took the case to the Court of Appeal to try to overturn an earlier ruling that the children should spend almost half the year living with their father.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accusing the father of trying to “marginalise” her partner and “overpower” them both with his forceful personality.
But the father, a wealthy man in a long-term relationship, now in his 50s, claims it is his right to see his children and they should divide their time between him and their mother.
The case began in 1999 when the man placed an advert in Gay Times in the hope of finding a lesbian couple to have his children. Looking for a similar female couple who wants to have kids. I require little involvement. I have a lot to offer.”
After a long-term lesbian couple answered the advert, he twice donated sperm and a boy and girl, now aged nine and seven, were born.
Earlier this year a county court judge awarded "shared residency" orders to the mother and father and directed that the children should spend almost half the year with him.
June Venters QC, representing the mother and her partner, said the children were “aware of the difficulties between mummy and daddy” and were at risk of being emotionally harmed by the dispute.
She accepted that the youngsters had a meaningful relationship with their father and said it was in no way suggested that he should lose all contact rights.
But the QC argued that a residency order should be made in favour of the mother and her partner, who have jointly been the children's primary carers since birth.
Ms Venters said the current, “enormously complex” contact arrangements were bound to be a source of further conflict. For the children's own good, the mother and her lover should be granted “day-to-day management” of their lives, she said.
The father’s barrister, Alex Verdan QC, told the court his client had played a central role in the children's lives since they were born, and insisted that “this is not a case of two mummies”.
From the day he that placed the original advert, the father had made it clear he wanted involvement in his children's lives,Mr Verdan argued.
He had played a full parental role, including taking the boy and girl to the doctors and paying their school fees, the barrister said.
Although the boy was keener than his younger sister on seeing their father, her reluctance was not “a trump” that should reduce his contact rights, the barrister added.
Mr Verdan said the lesbian couple had, at one stage, made “a very hostile application” to have the father stripped of his parental rights.
Earlier, Ms Venters told the court there had been a history of accusation and counter-accusation between the lesbian couple and the children’s father, including claims that he had favoured the little boy over his sister by giving him a puppy.
Lord Neuberger, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice Black, reserved their judgment.
Article: 8th November 2010 www.telegraph.co.uk
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