Peter and Toyah: Conception without consent on the Cobbles? Family law angle.
We have seen in recent episodes of Coronation Street that Peter Barlow has indicated to Toyah Battersby that he does not want to proceed with the cycle of IVF they are undertaking given the current circumstances and the risk that he may end up returning to prison.
Notwithstanding this it appears that Toya has proceeded without Peter’s knowledge. We are yet to find out whether the IVF cycle will be successful but no doubt if it is Peter may question how this situation could occur.
In this scenario it appears that Peter would be the biological and therefore legal father of any child. If that were not the case eg if there were a sperm donor involved then there may be a question about the child’s parentage generally.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 draws distinctions in circumstances where there is donated sperm between parties who are married and parties who are not married (like Peter and Toyah). If the parties are married the husband will be treated as the father of the child unless it is shown that he did not consent to the placing in the women of the embryo or the sperm and eggs or to her artificial insemination (as the case may be). In a situation where the parties are unmarried or where both parties are women then the burden is reversed. There must be formal notice of consent in writing which cannot be withdrawn.
The need for formal written notice has created its own problems both for the parties and IVF clinics. An audit of 109 clinics showed anomalies in 51 of those which included having no consent forms at all, forms completed after the date or forms incorrectly completed where cases where no counselling had been offered.
Clearly the issue of who is the parent of a child is a relevant one in terms of both any applications which may be made for child arrangement orders and so on under the Children Act 1989 and also from a financial perspective with regards to child maintenance and any application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.
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