Sperm donor father denied interim access to toddler
COCHRANE, Ontario, August 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A judge in this small northern Ontario town has ruled that allowing a biological father access to his 22-month-old son, who is being raised by his biological mother and her lesbian partner, is not in the best interests of the child because of “the risk of there being an adverse affect to the child.”
Citing arguments that introducing the child to his father would cause the boy confusion and insecurity, Justice Norman Karam of the Ontario Superior Court in Cochrane said, “Despite the child’s young age, it is impossible to know what disclosure of [the father’s] status as his parent might mean. All circumstances considered, the risk of there being an adverse affect to the child is too great to ignore.”
Justice Karam said he considered allowing access, but imposing limitations on what the child was told about his father, but decided that, “attempting to enforce such limitations would be virtually impossible.”
He said he also found “very convincing” the lesbian couple’s argument that by allowing the father access to the child now, he might indirectly influence the outcome of an upcoming paternity trial.
“In light of the fact that the trial should take place very shortly, I find both of these arguments very convincing,” Justice Karam said.
Rene deBlois, the biological father of the boy, had requested interim access to his son in January, 2011 pending the outcome of the trial scheduled for October 22, 2012. That trial will look into the paternity rights muddle created when deBlois and the boy’s lesbian mother, Nicole Lavigne, entered into a home-made written agreement that deBlois, who had known Lavigne since childhood, would provide sperm so she could artificially inseminate herself, with the understanding that he agreed to relinquish his paternity rights.
According to a National Post report, part of deBlois and Lavigne’s agreement was that Lavigne would provide deBlois with a child of his own using his sperm following the birth of the first child. deBlois alleges that Lavigne reneged on her offer to carry a second child for him because it was not part of the written “Donor Agreement” that he signed.
In his application to the court for paternity rights, filed three months after his son Tyler’s birth in October, 2010, deBlois stated that he had been coerced into signing the Donor Agreement by Lavigne, who he described as a “bully” who forced him to sign “under duress.”
“[Ms. Lavigne] threatens and intimidates [Mr. deBlois] with the existence of the contract,” the application said. “He is no longer comfortable with the arrangement, and would like the contract voided.”
Court records show that a subsequent case conference on deBlois’ application to the court “essentially declared the “Donor Agreement” void.”
Justice Karam noted in his decision that deBlois’ application “was commenced January 28, 2011, 17 months ago, when the child was less than three months old. Therefore, if I deny this motion for interim relief, by the time of trial, the applicant will have been denied access for at least 21 months after starting this proceeding, through no fault of his own.
“To this point in the action, as I understand it,” the judge observed, “the matter has been through a case conference, an adjournment and a change of counsel by the respondent. Aside from the adjournment, requested by the respondent [Lavigne] to retain new counsel, the delays appear to have been systemic.”
Justice Karam also observed that it is difficult to come up with a reason to deny deBlois access to his son. He noted deBlois’ “strong interest in parenting” his son and observed that Lavigne specifically chose deBlois to father children with her, presumably because of his “positive qualities.”
“Sections 20(1) and 20(4) of the Children’s Law Reform Act have been said to establish, if not a presumption in favour of contact with both parents, at least an obligation to explain why it is not in the best interest of a child that it occur. To that end, there are no significant parenting faults alleged,” Justice Karam stated,
“In fact, the applicant appears to be anxious to pursue a relationship with his son, which certainly suggests a strong interest in parenting.”
Despite the positive aspects of deBlois’ application for access to his son, Justice Karam concluded, “I am satisfied that in this case, the usual rule maintaining the status quo pending trial should be adhered to, in the best interests of the child. Although seventeen months has already expired through no fault of the applicant … After trial, there will be sufficient opportunity for the applicant to develop a relationship with the child, should he be successful.”
The full text of Justice Norman Karam’s ruling is available here.