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JIC Post:By Nick BrittenExpat.comTwo young sisters at the centre of a bitter custody battle were taken from their biological mother yesterday and sent to live with her former lesbian lover following a landmark court ruling.The Court of Appeal ruled that although the natural mother had blood ties to the girls, that would no longer be deemed an advantage when both parties had brought the children up.Because of their joint involvement they might both be considered the "natural parent", Lord Justice Thorpe said. The girls would be unable to distinguish between them on biological grounds.The ruling marks a shift from the traditional view that the biological parent holds an advantage in custody battles.The judge said: "We have moved into a world where norms that seemed safe 20 or more years ago no longer run. In the eyes of the child, the natural parent may be a non-biological parent who, by virtue of long settled care, has become the psychological parent."The girls' natural mother, referred to as CG, had a seven-year relationship with her girlfriend, referred to as CW. She gave birth to the seven- and four-year-old sisters, known as A and B, via artificial insemination. None of the parties can be identified to protect the girls' anonymity.The court heard that the relationship broke down in 2002 and CG moved to a neighbouring house until she found a new lesbian partner in Leicester. They recently "married" in a civil partnership.CW, 47, was denied access and any parental responsibility by a county court judge but this was overturned by the Court of Appeal last April and she was granted shared contact. The judges said shared responsibility was "vital" for the girls' psychological health.But as the children spent their summer holidays with CW, CG, a "headstrong and selfish" teacher, and her new partner secretly sold their house in Leicester and bought one in Cornwall, registering the children in a new school, a move the judges called "an appalling decision made in an afternoon". It was "a flagrant breach of the court's control of the arrangements for the children and an elaborate deception of CW".When the family was tracked down, the High Court granted primary care of the children to the former partner, a decision ratified by the Court of Appeal yesterday.Lord Justice Thorpe, dismissing the appeal, said that same-sex partners should have the same rights as estranged heterosexual couples, and that the child's views on which partner was the psychological parent should be considered.Lady Justice Hallet said she dismissed the appeal but "with a degree of hesitation"."I am very concerned at the prospect of removing these children from the primary care of their only identifiable biological parent who has been their primary carer for most of the young lives and in whose care they appear to be happy and thriving."
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