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WFW Bangkok delighted to announce success in baby Carmen custody battle

18 May 2016

The Bangkok office of international law firm Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) is delighted to announce that baby Carmen, her father Gordon Lake and his husband Manuel Santos departed Thailand last week following the end of a long custody battle that came to a close on 26 April 2016 when Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court found in favour of Gordon as Carmen’s natural father.

Gordon and Manuel have been fighting for legal custody of Carmen with the surrogate mother since their daughter was born in January 2015. Carmen is the biological daughter of US citizen Gordon and an anonymous egg donor. The surrogate mother refused to sign the documents necessary to enable Gordon and Manuel to take Carmen to their home in Spain.

The case was complicated by the fact that Thai law does not recognise same-sex marriages and by a new law banning commercial surrogacy, which took effect after Carmen’s birth. Gordon’s motion was made pursuant to the transitory provisions of the new surrogacy law. This was the first case under these provisions and a key issue was whether the court would award custody to a same sex couple.

The WFW Bangkok team representing and advising Gordon and Manuel were partner Alan Polivnick and associates Kulkanya Vorawanichar and Rachapol Sirukulchit. The team advised on Thai surrogacy law, represented Gordon, Manuel and Carmen in the proceedings in the Juvenile and Family Court and represented Gordon in the complaint filed with the Thai police by the surrogate in June 2015. WFW were initially contacted by Gordon in April 2015 and replaced his then Thai counsel.

Alan commented: “This is a fantastic result for Gordon, Manuel, their son Alvaro and, above all, baby Carmen, who can now finally have a normal family life with her loving parents who have fought so hard for her. It also represents a great outcome for both surrogate and same sex parents, not mention a humane and sensible decision on the part of the Thai courts. Last but very much not least, I’d like to congratulate Rachapol and Kulkanya for all the hard work, dedication and legal expertise they put into achieving this wonderful result for Carmen and her parents”.