Cutting out dad

I do not usually write about father’s rights issues, but this story caught my eye:

Europe’s highest court on human rights will decide if a lesbian can adopt her partner’s child, in this case stripping the father of his parental rights to his son.

The case is very simple according to Gregor Puppinck of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). “The two female partners want to oust the father and, since the law does not allow them to do so, they claim it is discriminatory,” Gregor reported in Turtle Bay and Beyond, C-FAM’s blog.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case X and others v. Austria on October 3.  Its decision will apply to all 47 countries in the Council of Europe and cannot be appealed.

Austria’s attorney has pointed out that most European countries do not allow a child to have two mothers or two fathers. A homosexual rights attorney who brought the case argued that this is sexual discrimination.

Here is the problem: the man has been a part of his son’s life from the beginning. Since 1995, the father has paid alimony to the mother and frequently visits with his son. However, now the mother and her lesbian partner want the father stripped of his rights because the pair want to be recognized as a “family”. 

According to the article, the couple give no reason for revoking the father’s parental rights. There are no allegations of abuse, neglect, drug use, or anything suspect.

This was not the first time the couple tried this:

According to the Statement of Facts compiled by the European Court of Human Rights, a District Court refused to allow the adoption in 2005 based on Austria’s Civil Code which recognizes adoption by one person replaces the natural parent of that same sex, and severs the relationship between the child and that natural parent.

A Regional Court dismissed an appeal in 2006, observing that when a child has both parents there is no need to replace one of them.

And the plot thickens:

It is unclear whether the father is aware of the court proceedings since the lesbian couple is pursuing the case anonymously. Nothing indicates the boy’s opinion.  The same lawyer – Helmut Graupner, legal counsel of ILGA-Europe – represents the women and the boy.

It seems odd that the couple are pursuing the case anonymously since they are apparently out enough to want the boy to be recognized as their son. What strikes me as more troubling is that the boy has the same lawyer as the couple and the way this is being done.

The article noted that the boy will reach the age of majority soon. In other words, he will legally be an adult and could decide on his own whether to go through with the adoption. While this is just my speculation, I think the reason the couple would go about it this way is because the boy might not want to sever his relationship with his father. Under the current law, it would not matter if he is still a minor. His mother could petition the court to revoke his father’s parental rights and have her lesbian partner adopt the boy without the boy’s consent. However, once he becomes an adult, it can only happen with the boy’s consent.

I also find it curious that this issue took so long to come up. The article does not state when the mother met her partner or how long they have been together, so perhaps the relationship began sometime around the first request in 2005. If it began earlier, why did the mother continue to accept money from the father instead of trying to have his rights revoked? Why did she let him develop a relationship with the boy? Why put father and son through this if she did not want the man to be in the boy’s life?

While I do not agree with the European court’s view that a parent couple can only be heterosexual, I do hope that they do not take away this man’s parental rights based solely a lesbian couple apparently trying to make a point. If he has done something wrong, let the court decide. If not, let the boy decide if he wants to be adopted by his mother’s partner.


6 thoughts on “Cutting out dad

  1. This isn’t very relevant to this article, but I couldn’t find your email address, so I thought I’d just share it with you here. I actually found a poem I thought you’d like. It really captures all you’ve been saying about the overlooked prejudices towards men in our society, and I couldn’t help but think of this blog when I read it. Here’s the link:

  2. I don’t think that having the custodial parent’s new partner adopt the child should push out the other biological parent. However if that would currently be the case for an opposite sex couple I think the court should do so in this case as well. Even an unjust law should be applied evenly.

  3. There was a similar UK case which went back and forth through the courts twice with similar circumstances except the kid was a lot younger when the lesbian couple tried to cut out the father. The judge had to (in the legal sense) bang their heads together and tell them to grow up for the child’s sake after they all spent six figures in legal fees that won’t now be spent on their child.

    I think you’ll find that France and Germany will take that European judgement and ignore it if it doesn’t suit their whims, that is business as usual. The UK currently has enough domestic family court and custody problems with heterosexual couples that most likely more fathers than mothers will use it to try to maintain contact with their children before they run out of money.

  4. I don’t think this is necessarily the women’s fault, they just want to adopt a child together, only the law states the child can not have three parents, I think this is the issue here; can’t they adopt the child without the father losing his parental rights?

  5. Ginny, if the couple just wanted to adopt a child together, why did they accept money from the father and allow him regular visitations with his son? They allowed the man to form a relationship with his son for years. They cannot suddenly change their mind and think that is fair to the father or the son.

  6. More to the point, why does she need to be the “legal” mother? The child already has a real mum and dad, why can’t this woman simply be mum’s wife/girlfriend?

    It smacks of prioritising adults wants over the child’s needs.

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