07 Nov Masson & Parsons in Action
On 21 October 2019, the Family Court of Australia made a declaration of parentage in favour of our client and her friend, who embarked upon a co-parenting journey last year.
Kim* approached us in early 2018 when she and Adam wished to have a child together through artificial conception. Kim and Adam were not in a romantic relationship. They were simply two friends who wanted to co-parent a child.
We assisted Kim and Adam to prepare a co-parenting agreement before conception occurred. The agreement documented Kim and Adam’s intentions in relation to parenting their child.
Without the agreement, there would have been no legal document that reflected Kim and Adam’s intentions, and Adam may have been regarded as a sperm donor of the child that it was intended he parent. This is because the starting position, at law, is that a sperm donor is not a parent.
The co-parenting agreement stated that Kim and Adam would seek parenting orders by consent, after their child was born, for equal shared parental responsibility. This order would require Kim and Adam to make all major long term decisions for their child together. However, the order for equal shared parental responsibility would not make Adam a legal parent of the child.
In late 2018 Kim fell pregnant.
In June 2019 the High Court determined our case, Masson and Parsons, and declared that a sperm donor can be a legal parent, if they have the intention of being a parent and they fulfil the roles and responsibilities of parenthood.
Kim and Adam’s daughter, Ava, was born in late July 2019. Adam immediately began fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of parenthood to his daughter. The co-parenting agreement clearly stated his, and Kim’s, intention that he be a parent.
In September 2019, we filed an Application for Consent Orders for Kim and Adam, seeking a parenting order for equal shared parental responsibility. We also sought a declaration of parentage, confirming that Adam is a legal parent of his daughter. At the time Kim and Adam entered into their co-parenting agreement, such a declaration could not be sought.
On 21 October 2019 the Family Court declared that Adam was a legal parent of his daughter. To our knowledge, this is the first time that Masson and Parsons has been applied in the Family Court to declare that a donor in a co-parenting arrangement is also a legal parent.
If you are considering embarking upon a co-parenting journey with a friend, we urge you to contact us as early as possible. We can assist you to ensure the right legal documents and arrangements are in place so that you can obtain a declaration of parentage after your child is born.
*names have been changed for anonymity