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Can a sperm donor be a legal “parent”? Recent landmark High Court decision provides guidance.

On 19 June 2019, the High Court of Australian handed down the hotly anticipated decision of Masson v Parsons & Ors [2019] HCA 21. Crucially, the decision confirmed that a sperm donor can now be considered to be a legal parent of a child, in certain circumstances.

Prior to this decision, a sperm donor was not recognised as being a “parent” pursuant to the Family Law Act. This meant that Mr Masson, the sperm donor, did not have grounds to prevent the child from relocating overseas with the mother and her de facto partner. However, in this landmark case, the High Court confirmed the primary judge’s decision that Mr Masson could be considered to be the child’s legal parent. Consequently, Mr Masson was able to apply to the Family Court and seek parenting orders preventing the child’s relocation.

It is important to note that Mr Masson was not just a sperm donor. He had a close relationship with the child, he was registered on the child’s birth certificate and he provided financial support to the child. Therefore, not all sperm donors will be considered to be a parent as a result of this case and each matter needs to be carefully considered based on the relevant facts.

This decision illustrates the complexities involved in family law parenting cases and highlights the potential issues that can arise for all involved with artificial conception matters.

We recommend that you seek legal advice if you have any questions regarding parental status or parenting matters generally. Our specialist family law team at Dobson Mitchell Allport are available to offer comprehensive advice in this complex area.