High Court of Australia
1: Masson v Parsons [2019] HCA 21 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Assisted Reproduction, Biological Father, Biological Mother, Birth Mother, Parentage, Parental Rights, Same Sex Parents, Same Sex Relationship, Sperm Donation, With whom a child spends time with
Judges:  Bell JEdelman JGageler JGordon JKeane JKiefel CJNettle J


Background: Mr Masson had donated his genetic material in 2006 in a private, personal insemination to his friend of about 25 years, named under a pseudonym as Susan Parsons. Mr Masson agreed on the understanding he would help as a parent, provide financial support and physical care. He is named as the girl’s father on her birth certificate. He was actively involved in the life and care of the girl and her younger sister, with both calling him “Daddy”, court documents show. Issues arose when the mother and her partner, Margaret, tried to take the girls, then aged 10 and 9, to live in New Zealand, where the couple married in 2015.  
 
  [Legal Issue]Mr Masson’s lawyers argued that, under the Commonwealth law, Mr Masson should be the parent, as he is the biological father and was involved in the child’s life. He had donated his genetic material in 2006 in a private, personal insemination to his friend of about 25 years, named under a pseudonym as Susan Parsons. Mr Masson was at first successful in fighting their move overseas, but the Parsons appealed before a full court of the Family Court, which agreed with the women that he was not a legal parent. They successfully argued that the laws in most of the states rule out a sperm donor from being a father and that Mr Masson was therefore not a parent. Mr Masson appealed to the High Court where the case was heard in April. He argued that the Commonwealth law should apply   [Court Orders]The High Court has found a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian friend to have a child is the father, due to his involvement in the child’s life.     


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2: Groth & Banks [2013] FamCA 430 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Biological Father, In Vitro Fertilisation, Mitochondrial Transfer, Sperm Donation
Judges:  Cronin J


Background: The parties in this dispute lived together as a couple for six months before breaking up in 2002. After separation, they remained friends and the man agreed to donate sperm so that the woman could undergo IVF treatment. The man had also signed a document acknowledging that he had no legal claim to any child born of his sperm donation. However, the man did attend the birth of the child and visited the child regularly, effectively bonding with the child as father and son. This was the case until the relationship between the man and his former partner deteriorated in late 2011, after he revealed that he had a new girlfriend. The woman had since prevented the man from seeing the child. As a result of this, the man launched legal proceedings seeking to re-establish contact with his son, a 
 
  [Legal Issue]The woman argued that according to the Status of Children Act 1974 (Vic), there is an irrebuttable presumption that the party donating the sperm that results in an IVF pregnancy is not legally considered the father of the child. The judge however found that this legislation was irrelevant, as it relied on the sperm donor being effectively "unknown" or "anonymous", where in this case the man had developed a meaningful parental bond with the child. Even if the legislation was relevant, the man would still comply with the definition of “parent” under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the judge argued, and concluded that despite any potential conflict between the State and Commonwealth legislation, that the Commonwealth law would still prevail, as per Section 109 of the Constitution.    [Court Orders]IT IS ORDERED (1) That the applicant and the respondent have equal shared parental responsibility concerning the major long-term decisions for the child. (2) That the child live with the mother with routine stays with his father, encompassing every second weekend and a few hours every Wednesday, once the child reaches school age.     


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