Tessa and Kathryn are a de facto couple who would like to have a child with the assistance of a sperm donor. The plan is that Tessa will carry the child, but the couple wants to make sure they have equal parenting rights.  Although they are eager to have the sperm donor involved in the child’s life, they do not want him to have any parenting rights.  Before Tessa and Kathryn embark on this exciting journey, they want to make sure that they understand their legal rights, the rights of the sperm donor, and also the rights of the child.  The most relevant piece of legislation is the Status of Children Act 1969.

Tessa

Tessa will use her own egg, and uterus to carry the child to full term.  As the person who gives birth to the child, she will automatically be a legal parent and a ‘natural guardian’, even if she used a donor egg.  All legal parents have guardianship rights which means they can made decisions about the child’s care, development and upbringing.  To find out more about guardianship click here.

Kathryn

Although Kathryn will not be a biological parent, or give birth to the child, the law makes it clear that as long as Tessa and Kathryn are partners, they both consent to the AHR procedure, and the sperm donor is not Tessa’s partner, then Kathryn will be the child’s legal parent.  Kathryn will also be a natural guardian of the child.  

The sperm donor

The sperm donor who agrees to assist Tessa and Kathryn, will not have any parenting rights, provided that he is not Tessa’s partner.  Because he is not a parent, he will not have any guardianship rights. 

The child

That law states that all children, regardless of how they were conceived will have equal status, including for the purposes of estate law. 

If the parties use an AHR service provider, the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 requires the AHR service provider to hold information about the donor.  The child will have the right to access this information once they reach the age of 18.  Guardians of children may have access to the information before the child turns 18.  There are also special circumstances, where the child may request the information earlier.  The AHR provider can only withhold the information in limited circumstances (for instance if it would endangering any person).