High Court rules Dad is a Dad, not a ‘sperm donor’

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High Court rules Dad is a Dad, not a ‘sperm donor’

On 19 June 2019, the High Court delivered its judgment in the matter of Masson v Parsons 2019 [HCA] 21 and unanimously ruled that Dad is a Dad (and therefore a legal parent) and not a “sperm donor” because he was involved in the child’s life.

We have been following this case with interest and you can read about the background of Mr Masson and Ms Parsons relationship in our previous blog post here.

The High Court determined that the law recognises parents in different ways. In this particular matter, the Court upheld that where the appellant was the biological father of the child, provided genetic material for the express purpose of fathering a child whom he expected to help parent by financial support and physical care, he is a parent of the child for the ordinary meaning of the word “parent” and, therefore, a parent of the child for the purposes of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

The Mother argued that the meaning of “parent” should exclude a “sperm donor”. In response to this, the High Court held at [54] that “those submissions must also be rejected … to characterise the biological father of a child as a “sperm donor” suggests that the man in question has relevantly done no more than provide his semen to facilitate an artificial conception procedure on the basis of an expressed or implied understanding that he is thereafter to have nothing to do with any child born as a result of the procedure” (emphasis added).

What this means is that if a donor is known to a single woman and provides sperm with the intention of him being a father and/or he continues to be involved in the child’s life after birth, then ordinarily he will be considered the child’s father.

What the Judgement does not do, is to determine whether a man who does no more than provide his semen to facilitate an artificial conception procedure that results in the birth of a child falls within the ordinary meaning of the word “parent”.

Becoming a parent when you cannot have children naturally can be one of the most complex processes in Australia and it is essential to get legal advice early. At Merridy Elphick Lawyers, we can provide you with advice about your options, including donor and surrogacy agreements.  Contact us on 4929 2225 to speak with one of our experienced solicitors.