An antipodean two-year-old boy has three legal parents -“ two in New Zealand and one in Australia -“ following a landmark decision in the New Zealand Family Court.
While the boy’s mother and her lesbian partner will share custody, the biological father will be recognised as a legal guardian.
New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times reported the boy was conceived by artificial insemination, after an Auckland lesbian couple wrote an agreement with a Sydney gay couple.
According to court documents, the parenting agreement stated the biological father would be named on the birth certificate and the child would be baptised in a gay affirming Protestant church. The couples also agreed the donor would be consulted about parenting decisions and have at least 14 days’ access to the child each year.
But after insemination, the lesbian couple moved back to New Zealand. The father and his partner started to contest custody and access through the court system, and the mother’s partner applied for joint custody. The dispute went to the High Court, twice.
The High Court ruled the man should have access to the boy. The Family Court, upholding previous High Court decisions but ignoring the agreement made between the donor and mother, awarded the father monthly access increasing to one week per month.
Activist Rodney Croome told The Australian the case highlighted the need for legislative change.
Legislation allowing multiple parenting also means parents won’t have to rely on the ad hoc solutions cobbled together by courts from existing laws and regulations, Croome said.
If a child considers two or more than two people to be his or her parents, then the laws should be flexible enough to allow those parents to be legally recognised.