There are many options for same sex couples starting their own families, including in vitro fertilisation, donor insemination at a clinic, surrogacy or using a home procedure for donor insemination.

Nicholes Family Lawyers can provide advice in relation to the potentially complex legal issues that may arise in relation to starting families, as well as other family issues affecting the GLBTI community including parenting disputes, property settlements and Binding Financial Agreements.

Donor Agreements

A man who donates his genetic material to a woman who is in a de facto relationship, is presumed for all purposes not to be the father of any child born as a result. This is regardless of whether or not the man is known to the woman and/or her partner.

Donor  agreements, although not legally binding, set out the intentions of parties as parents and/or sperm donors and the relationship (if any) the child will have with the sperm donor. Donor agreements can provide evidence of the intentions of the parties in relation to conceiving and raising the child and guidance to a court determining what is in the child’s best interests should a dispute arise between the mother and the sperm donor. It is very important that a donor agreement is entered into where a male provides his genetic material to assist in the conception of a child.  The bests interests of a child will, however, always prevail when a Court is making a decision about arrangements for a child.

Nicholes Family Lawyers work together with other professionals such as expert mediators and psychologists who have experience in GLBTI matters and are familiar with the special legal and non-legal issues parties are likely to encounter to help assist in developing and preparing such agreements and discussing future care arrangements of the child conceived.


In recent years, the law has changed so that a non-biological mother in a same-sex relationship can be legally recognised as a parent. Therefore, women in a same-sex relationship who undergo either IVF treatment or self-insemination to conceive a child, can both have the legal status of a parent. There is no longer any legal distinction between parents in same-sex relationships and parents in heterosexual relationships.

There are three important points to keep in mind when determining the parentage of a child born of a lesbian relationship:

  1. A woman who gives birth to a child  is presumed to be the mother of any child born as a result of the pregnancy;
  2. The birth mother’s female partner will be considered to be the legal parent of the child born, so long as she and the child’s biological mother were living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis when the IVF/self-insemination was performed; and
  3. The female partner must have consented to the IVF procedure.

Therefore lesbian couples can now be recorded as the child’s parents on the birth certificate of their donor-conceived child. The birth certificate now refers to the biological mother as the “mother” and to her partner as a “parent”.

The sperm donor can also be listed on a child’s birth certificate as the father or on an addendum to the child’s birth certificate as “sperm donor”. When making these decisions, you should consider the legal implications including the effect on your dealings with government agencies such as Medicare, Centrelink  and the Passport office.  Nicholes Family Lawyers can provide you with advice in relation to these potentially complex issues.

Assisted reproduction / IVF

If you would like legal advice in relation to IVF, including your rights to include specific conditions in your consent to treatment, your right to vary your consent and the legal ramifications of various decisions, we will treat your enquiry with strict confidence.