Legislation on Same Sex Couples for Female Partners

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Legislation has been recently passed to address discrimination against same sex couples. Here, we discuss amendments to the Family Law Act reforming parentage laws for lesbian couples, where a child was conceived through an assisted conception procedure.

Why were the amendments needed?

To recognise the importance of the parenting role of a non-biological mother where a child was conceived by an artificial insemination process (agreed to by both parties) in a lesbian de facto relationship.

Previously when lesbian relationships ended, birth mothers could take the position that the “co-mother” was not a biological parent of the child and so should not have any responsibility for, or time with, the child. With the amendments, both the mother and her female partner can be recognised as parents.

What are the practical implications?

If (female) same–sex couples separate, where they are recognised as parents under the Family Law Act, each party can apply for child support. Also, the non-biological mother can be registered on the child’s birth certificate as a parent.

What if the parties are in dispute?

Parenting proceedings can be commenced through the Court. If parentage is not established, it can still be deemed that the co-mother is a significant person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child and orders can be made about parental responsibility and the time the child spends with the co-mother.