PARENTAL RIGHTS OF A “SPERM DONOR”

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PARENTAL RIGHTS OF A “SPERM DONOR”

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The decision

On 19 June 2019, the High Court of Australia handed down its decision characterising Mr. Masson as a parent of the child and not just a “sperm donor”.

The Facts

  1. A child was conceived by way of artificial insemination between two friends, Mr. Masson and Ms. Parsons.
  2. At the time of donation, it was the intention of Mr Masson that he would be involved in the child’s life.
  3. The donor, Mr Masson was placed on the child’s birth certificate and had an ongoing relationship and role with the child including providing financial, health, education and general welfare support.
  4. In 2015 Ms. Parsons sought to relocate from Australia to New Zealand with the child.
  5. Masson responded by issuing proceedings in the Family Court of Australia seeking parental orders and shared parental responsibility.
  6. In response to these proceedings, Ms Parsons argued Mr Masson was merely a sperm donor and not a parent of the child.

The Impact

Whilst an important case for donors, this does not automatically give rise to a donor being considered a parent. In this event, Mr Masson had been involved in the ongoing support of the child, he was listed as the father on the birth certificate and the child referred to him as ‘Daddy’. His involvement in the child’s life was that of ‘parent like’ and his involvement would have been dramatically affected should Ms. Parsons be able to relocate.

Any person who is involved in a child’s life whereby they provide care, welfare and development is at liberty to seek parenting Orders. However, the Courts must consider what is in the best interest of the child.

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