Ex-wife sued for paternity 'deceit'
A lecturer has told a judge how his businesswoman wife had deceived him into thinking that he was the father of the son she gave birth to following fertility treatment.
The man claims that without his knowledge the child had been created with the use of sperm provided by a former boyfriend - and he wants damages of more than £100,000.
He says she dropped the "bombshell" news when the child was five.
The man outlined his claim at a hearing in the Central London County Court today.
Judge Deborah Taylor was told that the couple were now divorced.
And the woman - who at one stage was earning more than £180,000 a year - says there is "no merit" in her ex-husband's damages claim.
She said she always thought that the man knew that he was "not necessarily" the little boy's father.
A lawyer told the judge that the case was thought to be the first of its kind.
Judge Taylor said nothing could be published which would reveal the identity of the little boy at the centre of proceedings.
She said the man and woman should be referred to as "X" and "Y".
The judge was told that the man was in his 60s, the woman was in her 50s, and the little boy was nine.
She heard that the man and woman lived in different parts of the London area.
The man also had family links to Bolton, Lancashire.
Judge Taylor today heard evidence from both sides and is due to hear final legal submissions tomorrow.
Barrister Thomas Brudenell, who represented the man, said his client was claiming damages for "deceit".
He said the couple married in 2002.
In 2004 they travelled to a clinic in Barcelona, Spain, for IVF treatment and the man gave a sample of his sperm.
A few months later the woman returned to the clinic without the man and travelled instead with a former boyfriend.
Mr Brudenell said during the later visit the woman was impregnated with her former boyfriend's sperm.
He said the man did not know at the time, although it was "now quite clear what had happened".
Mr Brudenell said the little boy was born in late 2005 and when he was around six months old the couple separated.
Divorce proceedings began and their divorce was finalised in 2008.
He said the man looked after the child when the woman was working and paid more than £80, 000 in maintenance over the following few years.
In 2011 a dispute arose over the amount of contact he was having with the youngster - and the woman then told him that he was not the "biological father".
Shortly afterwards that was confirmed when he took a DNA test.
Mr Brudenell said the man was claiming damages for "distress and humiliation", damages to cover the amount he had paid in maintenance, and compensation for loss of earnings. He said the man's work had suffered and his income dropped because he was "shattered".
He said the couple's marriage was in difficulty around the time the woman had IVF treatment. They drew up an agreement under which he would not have the "normal" financial responsibility for any child, but it seemed the agreement "upset" the woman.
"On the (woman's) case, she was upset by the (man's) attitude," Mr Brudenell told the judge.
"She resolved there and then that he was not to father a child in the event that she became pregnant."
He said the woman subsequently travelled to the Spanish clinic with her ex-boyfriend, an accountant.
"The (woman) was impregnated with the sperm of (the ex-boyfriend)," said Mr Brudenell
"(The man) didn't know that at the time. It is now quite clear what happened."
He said the woman told the man that the little boy's father was her ex-boyfriend in the summer of 2011, three years after their divorce had been finalised.
"The (woman) told the (man) that (the boy) was not his biological son," said Mr Brudenell.
"She said to him the biological father of (the boy) was (her ex-boyfriend).
"Until then my client had no idea that he was not the father.
"He had always been reassured by the defendant that he was."
Mr Brudenell added: "The news was nothing short of a bombshell.
"A DNA test confirmed, sadly, that my client was not the father."
The man told the court that he and his then-wife drew up their agreement at a time when she wanted a child and when they were trying to make their marriage "work".
He said they decided it was "not necessary" for him to travel to the Spanish clinic a second time.
The man said his wife was an "an independent career woman and businesswoman".
She "burst spontaneously into tears" when she returned and told him that she had travelled to the clinic with her ex-boyfriend.
But he said she told him she asked the clinic to "use my sperm".
"I knew (the ex-boyfriend) gave a sample but (she) told me that (she) had got the clinic to use my sperm," the man told the judge. "I believed (her) and I regret that. (She) lied. That is why we are here now."
The judge was told that the man was at the birth of the little boy and his name was on the youngster's birth certificate.
Mr Brudenell said the man now had "virtually no contact" with the little boy.
The woman, who represented herself at the hearing, disputed her ex-husband's damages claim.
"There is absolutely no merit in the claim," she told the judge.
"At no point did I hide anything from the claimant.
"The claimant knew from the very first day that I had been to the clinic with (my ex-boyfriend)."
She asked whether any "normal, loving, caring, husband" would have "forced his wife" to sign an agreement such as the one she signed.
"He didn't want to go back," she said. "The only reason I took (my ex-boyfriend) was because my ex-husband gave me that document to sign."
The woman added: "I didn't know which sample they actually used. I didn't ask anything. I made an assumption but I didn't know what they actually did. I did make an assumption that it was most likely they would use the fresh sample but I didn't know for certain what they actually did."
She said she had not told the clinic "which sample to use" and added: "I didn't know which sample had been used. The decision on which sample had been used was made by them. The clinic decided and not me."
The woman went on: "I told him at the outset that I had gone to the clinic with (my ex-boyfriend) and he had given a sample."
And she said she had not told her ex-husband that the clinic had "used his sample" not her ex-boyfriend's.
The woman told the judge: "I always thought that he knew that he was not necessarily (the little boy's) father. I told him I had gone to the clinic with (my ex-boyfriend) and (my ex-boyfriend) had given a sample."
And she said she had not asked her ex-husband for maintenance and had not expected to receive "a penny".
She said she had intended to put only her name and the child's name on the birth certificate - but her ex-husband had wanted his name on the document too.
"(He) is a very forceful individual," she said. "Look at the way he has come after me in all these proceedings."
Mr Brudenell told the judge that there was no suggestion that anyone at the clinic had done anything wrong.