Lesbian mommies vs donor dad

By Time of article published Dec 10, 2010

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A lesbian couple who advertised for a sperm donor are embroiled in a bitter custody battle after the baby’s father demanded access to the child.

Civil partners Stacey and Kate Cassin are trying to block their daughter’s biological father from gaining full parental rights.

The women advertised for a sperm donor on a gay website because they could not afford hospital IVF treatment.

They claim to have reached a “gentleman’s agreement” with donor Mark Hartill, a musician, that he would not be involved in the child’s upbringing.

Student nurse Stacey, 24, who describes herself as bisexual on a social networking site, entered into a civil partnership with her 26-year-old bank worker girlfriend 18 months ago.

The couple, who live near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, conceived after six attempts.

But following the birth of their daughter earlier this year, Hartill visited three times and became so besotted with the child that he told the women he wanted to take an active role in her upbringing, with weekly access.

Stacey said they will fight “tooth and nail” to bring up the baby in a “loving family relationship”.

She added: “The agreement was that Mark would be able to see the baby after the birth but he would not be a parent.

“Mark came to see her three times after the birth and has decided he wants to be a daddy, which breaks the verbal agreement we had.

“Now Mark’s family have been getting involved and his mum has sent us e-mails backing up her son. We are determined to fight this through the courts, though we never wanted it to come to this.

“We are sure right is on our side. Our girl is a beautiful baby who will be brought up in a loving, caring family.”

Stacey’s father, Christopher, from Erdington, Birmingham, confirmed his daughter had been in the “stable” relationship with Kate for more than five years, but refused to comment further.

Hartill, a Sunday league footballer who lives 20 miles away in Nottingham, said: It’s a private matter only a few members of my family know about. I don’t want to say anything that could prejudice the case.”

Last month, a lesbian mother lost a custody battle with a gay man who had fathered her two children.

The mother and her civil partner wanted to overturn an earlier ruling allowing the 51-year-old company director to have his son and daughter, now 10 and seven, living with him for almost half the year.

As in the Melton Mowbray case, the children were conceived by artificial insemination, this time after the man placed an advertisement in the Gay Times saying he wanted to be a father, but one who wanted “little involvement” in the children’s upbringing.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected the mothers’ appeal after ruling the family situation had changed and the father now played a central role in the children’s lives, including taking them to doctors’ appointments and paying their school fees. - Daily Mail

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