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Family Court Clarifies Sperm Donors’ Parenting Rights

A recent decision of the Family Court has provided much needed clarity on the parental rights of sperm donors, reports the Australian.
Previous case law had suggested that sperm donors could have parental rights in certain circumstances, but the recent case, Masson & Parsons and Parsons has provided further clarification on this point.
The case concerned a man from Newcastle who had acted as a sperm donor for a good friend and had gone on to play a significant role in the child’s life. He was named as the father on the girl’s birth certificate and both she and her sister, who was conceived later by the mother through anonymous sperm donation, called him ‘daddy’.
At the time of the sperm donation the mother had been single, however she went to form a de facto relationship with another woman, and when the child in question was ten they decided to move to New Zealand.
The man obtained an interim injunction against this and has now succeeded in his application for a permanent stay order preventing the family from moving overseas. The Family Court accepted his argument that at the time of the child’s birth the mother had not been in a relationship, he had taken on a parental role and was therefore the legal parent.
In giving her judgment, Justice Cleary noted that the best interests of the child must always be taken into account when making a parenting order. She went on to conclude that “the risks of devaluation of the children’s relationship with Robert and his extended family is a risk that should not be taken when the children have thrived and done well in the arrangements which all three parties have put in place for them over the years since the birth of each child.”


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