The Attorney-General recently released the report by the Family Law Council entitled Report On Parentage And The Family Law Act. The report looked at Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) to establish whether the provisions dealing with parentage were leading to outcomes that are appropriate, non-discriminatory and consistent for children. It particularly looked at whether there were any amendments to the Act that would:
- Make it more consistent with similar State legislation
- Assist the courts in determining parentage of children born as a result of surrogacy or assisted reproductive technology.
- Assist other Commonwealth agencies to identify parents.
The report made 19 separate recommendations.
There were several recommendations to alter the restrictive nature of the term “parent” in the Act to ensure a broader range of people can be considered. In particular the term “parent” should be amended to include reference to “other significant adults”.
The report also recommended the introduction of a new federal Status of Children Act. This would consolidate section 60H (provision for children born of artificial conception) and other provisions in the Act relating to parentage, but these would then provide power to make orders in relation to legal parentage for all Commonwealth laws. Such an act would also provide baseline requirements for the transfer of parentage in surrogacy cases where State laws do not apply.
A specific recommendation was made to redraft section 69W of the Act which allows a court to order parentage testing. The redrafting is to explicitly include that the Court may consider the child’s best interests when considering such an order.
Recommendations were also made to undertake further enquiries, firstly as a comprehensive review of the decision making processes of Part VII of the Act, and secondly to assess the impact on Commonwealth Laws of the issues raised by international surrogacy.
The report was delivered to the Government in December 2013, however no response from the Government has as yet been received.