Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Age - "Parent case may alter 'family'" by Karen Kissane

IN A case that could change the definition of "family", a gay man who fathered a child has asked the Family Court to recognise his gay partner as a co-parent.

At a child access hearing in Melbourne yesterday, a registrar warned that the men were asking for a special status not normally given to parents in blended relationships.

"People separate or they have other partners, but (the new partners) are not regarded as having the same rights as biological parents, or the same parental responsibilities," the registrar said.

"That's what (the applicants) want, and it's not what is usually given. It's a vexed issue."

A trial expected next year will decide whether the father's partner can be recognised by the court as having "shared parental responsibility" for the child, to whom he has no biological link.

The child, a boy, lives mostly with his biological mother and her lesbian partner. He was conceived within their longstanding relationship using sperm donated by the gay father.

The mother and father agreed that both would have a role in his upbringing.

The mother's and father's relationship has since broken down. A report to the court by an independent expert said the boy was happy, confident, articulate and creative. He was affectionate with both couples, but regarded the women as his parents.

Yesterday's hearing was over an application by the father to have more time with the boy.

The expert report had suggested he see more of his father, who was a significant figure in his life. The child's independent lawyer told the court: "(He) needs more time with his father, whether his mother likes it or not."

The registrar reserved his decision about increased access for the father.

[Link: Original Article]

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