The girl, who has been at the centre of litigation between her two fathers and two mothers for half her life, was represented by a lawyer at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, and invoked provisions of the 1989 Children Act in a bid to persuade a judge she should be left to “reach her own conclusions”.
However, Mr Justice Cobb has ruled that it is in her best interests to have a “limited form of relationship” with her ‘fathers’.
The teenager has a 10-year-old sister, also born as a result of donor fertilisation. Both girls lived with their mothers.
The judge referred to the adults as Father 1, Father 2, Mother 1 and Mother 2, and the children as A and B.
Both girls were the “biological children” of Father 1 and Mother 1. Father 1 is in a civil partnership with Father 2 and Mother 1 is in a civil partnership with Mother 2, he said.
The mothers had argued against the teenager being made to stay in touch with her fathers. The judge said he acknowledged and respected the teenager’s “well-developed autonomy and independent thinking”.
However, he ruled that her fathers should be allowed to send her cards, letters, and gifts, and said she was “likely to benefit” from the “modest, but important link” with them.
The judge said an “order for indirect contact” was better than no order.
He said the fathers did not want him to order that they must be allowed see the girl, but only wanted an order for “indirect contact”.
The judge also ruled that the fathers should have indirect contact with the younger girl. He said there was “less resistance” to him ordering her to stay in touch. The men had also not asked him to rule that they should see the younger child.
Mr Justice Cobb said the fathers had not had “any routine contact” with the girls for “many years”. The judge said neither girl wanted to see their fathers.
Both girls had spoken of legal proceedings, which began in 2008, “ruining” their childhoods. They said their ‘fathers’ were “solely to blame” for the “protracted litigation”. The fathers had told the judge that not asking him to order that they should see the girls was the “biggest decision of their lives”.
They said they were not “abandoning” the girls, but said they respected the youngsters’ wishes.