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Childcare: Parental Responsibility Order for former same sex partner

A High Court Judge has granted a parental responsibility order for the former same sex partner in the relationship.

The couple were in a same sex relationship when the birth mother became pregnant through intrauterine insemination. The couple were together for the first three years of the child’s life.

During the first two years following separation, the birth mother decreased levels of contact between the child and her former partner before taking the child to live abroad without her former partner’s knowledge.

Prior to the hearing, the birth mother had agreed to a child arrangement order in terms set out by the child’s guardian, who noted that the child had positive memories of the partner and it would be of benefit for the child and the former partner to maintain a relationship.

The Judge agreed that it was in the child’s best interest to have the former partner in their life. The judge commented that the non-birth partner had played a significant role in the child’s life during some of the most developmental phases.

The former partner asked the court to make a finding that she was a ‘psychological parent’ – this is the relationship between the demands of the child and the providing of the child’s needs from the parent. At the most basic level this is feeding, nurturing, comforting and loving that child but later, also includes more sophisticated levels of socialisation, guidance, education and protection.

The Judge agreed that the former partner had played a significant role and the child recalled this and it formed part of the foundation of her infancy, which in turn would have a positive impact on her sense of identity while small but also when growing up.

The Parental Responsibility Order was made and will remain in place during the Child Arrangement Order (until the child is 16).

Christine Sholto-Douglas, manager of Family Law and specialist Childcare solicitor at Swain & Co Solicitors, comments, “An example of the court moving with the ever changing family values in our diverse society. Here at Swain & Co Family Department, we are happy to advise all parents, step parents, grandparents and family members in children law issues”

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