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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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CONTACT: Re WB (Contact) [2011] EWHC 2455 (Fam)
Date:24 NOV 2011

(Family Division; Hedley J; 29 July 2011)

The children were born as a result of IVF treatment as part of an agreement between a lesbian couple (civil partners) and gay couple.  

Although there was an attempt to define roles before embarking on treatment, clearly defined roles were not properly established. However, there was a clear agreement that the women would do principal parenting and would provide two-parent care. The judge explored concepts to cope with this sort of case. Identified concept of principal and secondary parenting roles. The situation was not equivalent to separated parent because the women were providing ‘principal' parenting. The role of the mother's partner needed to be clearly affirmed and respected. Equally, the men's secondary parenting role had to be acknowledged. The original agreement had acknowledged the need for the men's involvement to give clear sense of identity to children, to give male component and benign involvement. The children were suffering emotional harm as result of the dispute between the adults over contact.