STRASBOURG, FRANCE – ADF International has filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights in the case of S. v. United Kingdom after the British High Court ruled against a Romanian mother living in the U.K. and ordered custody of her 15-month-old daughter to the sperm donor and his same-sex partner. The High Court judge granted the mother only two hours of supervised contact time every other week. The judge also imposed a gag order which stopped the mother from speaking out for months about what had happened.
Every mother has a right to family life
“Every mother has a right to family life. Separating a mother from her daughter is one of the most extreme interferences with that right imaginable, and that’s why this case is important even beyond this particular instance,” said Robert Clarke, legal counsel with ADF International, which brought the case before the ECHR. “Granting the child less than two hours every other week to see her mother and then only under supervision is just not right, especially since the court held that the mother was able to care well for her daughter. Now both are going to spend Christmas apart.”
The mother decided to have a baby with her male friend, whom she had known for 25 years. The two agreed that, after a successful process of artificial insemination, she would be the one raising the girl and that he would only play a secondary role.
After the child was born, the sperm donor and his partner filed a claim for parental responsibility. They claimed the mother was essentially a surrogate, though she argues she never agreed to any such arrangement. The same-sex couple insists that they had an agreement with the mother for the child to live with them and for the mother to play only a minor role.
At the final hearing, the British High Court judge removed the child from the mother, awarding full parental responsibility and custody to the same-sex couple. In addition, she surprisingly decided that the mother had used breastfeeding as a “device” to manipulate the court by falsely demonstrating closeness to the baby. The judge granted the mother two hours of supervised contact every two weeks on the basis that anything more might confuse the child as to who the main caretakers of the baby are.
“Given the fact this mother was able to care well for her child, as the court admitted, and given the fact she had facilitated, as the court ordered, contact with the father and his partner for three days and two nights each week during the long legal battle, such limited contact is unfair,” Clarke added. “We hope the ECHR will reverse the British High Court’s decision and restore the relationship between this mother and her daughter.”
Read the full interview with Robert Clarke here.