Gay man and woman in court battle over children

A gay man and woman are fighting a bitter court battle over their two children born by artificial insemination.

The woman and her civil partner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, took the case to the Court of Appeal today to try to overturn rulings allowing the father a joint residency order.

The father met the mother after he placed an advert in Gay Times in 1999 which read: "Gay guy wants to be a Dad. White, handsome, solvent 30s, professional, in happy relationship, non-scene, has everything but kids.

"Looking for a similar female couple who wants to have kids. I require little involvement. I have a lot to offer."

June Venters QC, representing the mother and her partner, told a panel of three judges headed by the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, that the children, a boy of nine and girl of six, need to know which is their permanent home and her clients considered they were their parents.

The father, who has been with his partner for 25 years, won a shared residence order in a county court for the children and an order they should live with him for 152 days of the year.

The couples sat at either ends of the court bench as Ms Venters said that from birth the mother and her partner had been their primary parents and should have been granted a joint residency order and the father defined contact periods.

She said making a residence order between the biological father and mother had "marginalised" her partner, who was regarded as a primary carer by the children.

The county court ruling had "sent a wrong message" and her clients wanted the children to be "very clear" who everyone was in their lives, said Ms Venters.

The recorder who heard the case in the county court, said he was struck by the intensity of the dislike for the father felt by the mother and her partner, said Ms Venters.

She said her clients found him domineering and controlling and they should have recognition that they are a family.

The judges reserved their ruling to a later date.