Mother who gave birth after one-night stand wins right to keep baby secret from the father


The Daily Mail (UK)

November 24, 2007

'Ultimate veto': The mother has the right to decide who should know about her child, a court ruled

A mother who had a child after a one-night stand with a work colleague has won the right to keep the birth a secret from the father.


The woman, 20, went to the Court of Appeal after a county court ordered that her parents and the father should be told.

A legal guardian and local authority made the application to a county court after the mother said she wanted the baby girl adopted immediately after she gave birth in hospital.

Three appeal judges today agreed that the mother has "the ultimate veto" over whom should be told about her child.

They ordered that the local authority and guardian should take no steps to identify the father or tell him about the birth of the baby girl, now 19 weeks old.

There was also an order barring the authority from introducing the girl to any of the mother's family to assess them as potential carers. The court had been told that the family learned about the child after the local authority made inquiries.

All the names and locations of everyone involved in the case cannot be published by order of the court to protect the mother's wishes that the father never knows about his child.

Counsel representing the mother had told the judges at a hearing earlier this month that no one had been told about the birth because the mother did not want anyone to know.

Lady Justice Arden, in a ruling given today, said the county court judge had made his order because he believed that the local authority had a duty under the law to find out as much information about the background of the family as they could.

But she said there was no such obligation - only a duty to serve the best interests of the child.

The judge said the mother was 19 when she became pregnant and did not realise until a late stage.

From then on she kept her pregnancy a secret from her family. She lived on her own, pursuing a career and did not believe she could look after the child.

The judge said she asked for the child to be adopted, saying she did not believe her divorced parents could provide a home for the child. She said she did not want the father to know anything about the child.

Lady Justice Arden said this was not a violation of his rights to family life under the Human Rights Act because he had no right to be violated.

Lord Justice Thorpe said: "The law improves the opportunity of the child of anonymous birth to search out its biological origin.

"However, the ultimate veto remains with the mother. Registers of information are in place to lead the searching child to the mother's door but the child has no right of entry if the mother, despite counselling, refuses to unlock it."