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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

08 SEP 2011

Are some parents more natural than others? [2010] CFLQ 290


This article explores the differing judicial approaches to the weight accorded to biological parenthood in residence disputes. We examine the legal basis for the natural parent presumption and conclude that the recent Supreme Court decision in Re B, reversing the decision of the Court of Appeal in granting a residence order in favour of a grandmother rather than the father, makes it clear that any reference to presumptions or the right of a child to be cared for by its biological parents is wrong and will detract from an examination of the best interest of the child. Although the decision is to be welcomed, in that it reaffirms the principles of the Children Act 1989, it does however leave questions unanswered, in particular how much weight should be given to genetic parenthood. The difficulty is that if the genetic relationship between parent and child 'must count for something' as Baroness Hale has stated, how much weight should be attached to it? We would argue that the law should seek to recognise all parents equally, regardless of their route to parenthood. The crucial factor should be the love and commitment shown by the adults in the child's life, not the source of that love, be it genetic or social.

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