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Should a friend have access to kids?

National Post, Jana G. Pruden, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

REGINA - A rift between friends has launched a landmark legal battle as a man who paid for his "special friend" to get in vitro fertilization fights for visitation rights with her children.

"This is a new legal frontier ...," Brad Hunter, lawyer for the children's mother, said yesterday during a hearing at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. "[This is] somewhere in the family law world we've never been before."

The case involves Ms. C and Mr. S, both of whom can be identified only by initials because of a publication ban. The two never had a romantic relationship, but had been involved in a lengthy friendship for nearly a decade when Ms. C decided she wanted to have children.

Though Mr. S didn't want to be a sperm donor, he contributed money to the woman's in vitro insemination and offered support leading up to the birth of her twins -- including attending birthing classes and being present in the delivery room when the babies were born. The relationship later deteriorated, and when Ms. C tried to break off contact with Mr. S, he took her to court to seek access to her children.

A Queen's Bench judge granted Mr. S visitation rights last year, and Ms. C is now fighting to have that decision overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Arguing before Saskatchewan's highest court yesterday, Mr. Hunter said the judge who granted Mr. S access to the twins "stretched the law beyond the breaking point." Mr. Hunter said the mother has the right to make decisions about her children.

"Essentially, parents are entitled to do what they want with their kids provided they don't break the law," he said.

Mr. Hunter said Ms. C doesn't want her children spending time with Mr. S because he is controlling, emotionally abusive and unstable. He once attempted suicide and was involved in an incident with police at his home, Mr. Hunter said. "She's got her reasons for not wanting him in her life ... and we believe those reasons should be respected," he said.

Meanwhile, the man's lawyer countered that Ms. C is herself "a very strong-willed and quite controlling person," who continued to leave her kids alone with Mr. S all day despite his difficulties, sometimes not even checking in on them. "What mother would do that? If she had concerns about the safety of her children, she wouldn't have done that," said lawyer James Vogel. "She had options."

Mr. Voge argued "Mr. [S] had been Read More .. a father to these children than many, many biological fathers."

The court reserved its decision.

National Post 2006