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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Platonic couple living in different homes made legal parents of surrogate child

Written by Brian Farmer

A married couple who have a platonic relationship and live in different homes have been made the legal parents of a child born following a foreign surrogacy arrangement.

The most senior family court judge in England and Wales says the fact that the couple's relationship is not romantic is no bar to them being made the child's legal parents.

Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, has made a parental order after analysing the case at a family court hearing in London.

Barrister Deirdre Fottrell QC, who represented the couple, had told him that their relationship was "platonic and not romantic".

She said they lived in separate homes.

Sir James said the couple's relationship satisfied the requirements of legislation governing marriage and arrangements relating to surrogate children.

"The applicants were indeed, and remain, married to each other," he said in a ruling published on Tuesday.

"Their relationship is deep and of long standing.

"But, one of them is, as the other has always known, gay, and their relationship and marriage is thus, as Ms Fottrell puts it, platonic and not romantic."

The judge said the nature of their relationship did not affect their ability to satisfy legal requirements.

He added: "There is, as Ms Fottrell has demonstrated, no ground upon which the marriage could be declared voidable, let alone void.

"There can be no question of the marriage being a sham. In short, the marriage is a marriage. The fact that it is platonic, and without a sexual component, is, as a matter of long-established law, neither here nor there and in truth no concern of the judges or of the State."

Sir James said a sexual relationship was not necessary for a valid marriage.

"The applicants have different homes, with each of which the child is very familiar," the judge said.

"When the child is not with both parents, the child's time is split between them and their homes.

"The child does not live with anyone else."

Sir James, who has not identified anyone involved, said it gave him great pleasure to make a parental order.

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