IVF legal issues
Legislative changes in recent years have streamlined access to IVF for all women and couples who seek to undergo assisted reproductive treatment, and removed discriminatory barriers to access on the basis of sexuality, relationship status or fertility.
Single women, heterosexual or married couples and same-sex couples now all enjoy equal rights to receive IVF treatment, however complexities still exist surrounding the use of IVF in gay and lesbian co-parenting arrangements, surrogacy agreements or for people whose relationships may not meet the definition of 'de facto'.
Our team has many years experience in this often complex area of family law and we can assist you in relation to all IVF legal issues, including:
- The necessary legal steps you need to take prior to or following IVF treatment
- Who is considered to be a parent under the Family Law Act and other relevant state legislation
- Parental rights eg non-biological parent, lesbian and gay male couples, sperm donors
- Surrogacy and sperm donor agreements
- Co-parenting arrangements
- Obtaining parenting orders
IVF legal issues and same-sex couples
For lesbian couples where one partner gives birth to a child as a result of an artificial conception procedure, the couple will (in most circumstances) legally be considered the child’s parents.
The same may not apply to gay male couples as, in an effort to protect sperm donors from financial and other responsibilities, the law has only recognised donors as "parents" in limited circumstances. This applies despite any intentions to the contrary by the parties involved and despite the fact that one of the partners is biologically the child's father.
Couples in this situation may need to take steps to legally formalise their parental status, either by obtaining parenting orders form the Family Court or by adopting the child.
Although the status of lesbian parents is protected by law, it is also prudent for lesbian couples to obtain parenting orders to protect both partners’ roles as parents – particularly the partner who is not the child’s biological mother. This ensures (largely for the benefit of third parties) that both parents are legally recognised as having the right to make important decisions about their children, such as schooling, health, religion, as well as other decisions like overseas travel.