A gay couple in Queensland has been granted leave to apply for parental access to a child to whom they have no biological connection.
The couple had been involved in a family-like relationship with a lesbian couple, referred to in court documents as Ms Fabian and Ms Halifax, who split over a year ago.
The men, who cannot be named, donated sperm to Halifax to conceive the couple’s first child, now aged seven, and were involved with the couple’s second child, who was born to Fabian using donor sperm.
Although they have no biological connection to the second child, they proved to the Family Court that they are people “concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child”.
The couple had been involved with the child from the outset. They were invited to sonogram appointments, attended the naming ceremony and had been introduced to the children and family friends as fathers.
GLBT family law expert Paul Boers has advised couples entering co-parenting relationships to seek legal advice.
“I advise women to be cautious about written [co-parenting] agreements. A written agreement just setting out the roles of everybody is not legally enforceable, and might actually be used in court as evidence to establish care and welfare,” he told Sydney Star Observer.
A court order, obtained as soon as the child is born, is the safest way to establish roles for donors.
“If the donor is to have some sort of parenting role, you can get a court order conferring parental responsibility, or you can have a court order giving all of [involved] parental responsibility,” he explained.
“I would advise lesbian mums, get both of yourselves registered on the birth certificate. You can’t prevent the sperm donor from bringing a [parental] application, but he would have to establish his level of care for the welfare and development of the child.”
Fabian has been ordered to remain in Queensland pending the outcome of the case.
info: For legal advice on gay and lesbian parenting matters, contact the Inner City Legal Centre on 9332 1966.