The Lobby is celebrating the anniversary of the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same-Sex Relationships) Act 2008 (NSW) coming into force which extended legal parenting presumptions to include lesbian co-mothers.
Before this reform, the lesbian partner of the birth mother was a legal stranger to her child. The 2008 reforms enabled children born to lesbian couples through assisted conception to have two legally recognised mothers. The female de facto partner of the birth mother is now automatically recognised as a ‘parent’ under all NSW and federal laws.
The new laws inserted a legal presumption into the Status of Children Act 1996 (NSW) which applies to lesbian couples who have a baby through assisted means.
To be recognised as a legal parent the co-mother must have lived with the birth mother in a de facto relationship at the time of conception; the co-mother must have consented to the conception procedure, and; the child must be conceived through assisted conception methods.
This parentage presumption works automatically, whether or not the parents apply to get a new birth certificate. The laws also apply retrospectively to include children already born. This presumption also applies if the parents separated after the child was born.
If your child has a birth certificate which only lists his or her birth mother, you just contact NSW Births, Deaths & Marriages Registry on 1300 655 236 to have the certificate amended.
These changes do not allow a child to have more than two legal parents. Children who have three or four parents can have these parents recognised in a more limited way through a parenting order via the Family Court.
While these reforms should be celebrated, the GLRL recognises that more work needs to be done. In particular, adoption and surrogacy law needs to be reformed so the needs of all our families, including gay dads, step-parents and long-term carers can be recognised.

info: For more information please contact the Inner City Legal Centre on 9332 1966, or visit our website: www.glrl.org.au.

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