Part II – case study
How do we apply this to the non-parent-carer case? A case study for practitionersLet us extend this reasoning to the non-parent-carer case. A contemporary example:
A toddler's (T) parents are not on the scene. She has been placed in a shared care arrangement with her maternal grandmother (MGM) and maternal grandfather (MGF). MGM is genetically related to T. MGF is not: he is T's mother's stepfather and looked after T's mother she was a young child, treating her as his own daughter. MGM and MGF are separated. MGM resides in Far Away Land; she has applied to the court for an order that T live with her there. She contends that, as T's biological relative, it would be in T's best interests to do so. MGF resists the application.
To start: In MGM's case, the impact of the genetic link between her and T will be felt only to the extent that it influences the factors detailed in the 'welfare checklist'. By the same token, the close nature of MGF's non-genetic relationship with T will hold sway only as far as it can be said to affect T's best interests.
In evaluating that impact, however, it may be possible to extend and apply the principles developed in cases concerning genetic links between children and parent-carers - the 'natural parenthood' principles.
A practitioner representing MGM might consider the following arguments:
a. The dicta in Re G can be applied directly to this case: Baroness Hale makes specific reference to a wider family's knowledge that it is 'their' child and the propensity of this knowledge to give birth to feelings of love and commitment, perhaps especially in grandparents (para , Re G).What of MGF? His representative should note the following:
b. Further or alternatively, it is not the provision itself of the gametes that suggests that the child's welfare would be promoted by being placed with his parent, rather it is the 'very special sense of love for and commitment to' (para , Re G) the child that is the driving force. On the present facts, it is a small step to extend this to the maternal grandmother, as a non-parent genetic relative.
c. Further or alternatively, the maternal grandmother is a 'social or psychological parent' to T, given her role in raising her.
d. In the event that the maternal grandmother breastfed T, then further or alternatively, the bond fostered in Baroness Hale's conception of 'gestational parenthood' (para , Re G) exists between the maternal grandmother and T, despite her not having conceived or given birth to T.
a. The dicta in Re G can be extended to this case: given the care provided to T and her mother by the maternal grandfather, his position is such so that the wider family to which T is seen to 'belong' ought properly to be seen to include him too.
b. Further or alternatively, the "very special sense of love for and commitment to" T can be extended to the non-genetic maternal grandfather, on the same basis that it can be extended to the genetic maternal grandmother.
c. Further or alternatively, the maternal grandfather is a 'social or psychological parent' to T, given his role in raising her.
ConclusionTo conclude, when assessing the competing demands of the genetic parent and the social or psychological parent, their respective statuses should be examined for their potential to meet the child's needs. As explored in Part II, above, the same principles can likely be applied to non-parent-carer cases.
When evaluating a child's best interests, then, it is not only she who provides the genes who matters, but also she who buys the jeans.
1 Indeed, in Re B (A Child)  UKSC 5,  1 FLR 551, where the dispute lay between the maternal grandmother and the genetic father, there was no mention of the importance of the maternal grandmother’s genetic relationship with her grandson.