There are many options for starting a family, including IVF, using donor eggs or sperm in a clinic, self-insemination, and surrogacy.

Nicholes Family Lawyers can provide advice in relation to the legal issues that may arise in relation to starting families, as well as other family law issues including parenting disputes, property settlements and asset protection with Binding Financial Agreements.

At Nicholes Family Lawyers we have a specialist LGBTIQA+ interest group of lawyers led by Partner Bec Dahl with a particular focus on and insight into issues affecting rainbow families and the surrounding law.

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 LGBTIQA+ matters, and are familiar with the special legal and non-legal issues parties are likely to encounter.  We 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.

Latest News

Webinar on
“Rainbow Families and the Law”

Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner Bec Dahl presented on Tuesday, 5th December 2023 in a free webinar “Rainbow Families and the Law” proudly hosted by Rainbow Families by Switchboard.

At the Rainbow Families focused event, Bec will discuss family law topics including:

  • Surrogacy arrangements 
  • Donor agreements  
  • Adoption  
  • Parenting Plans and Parenting Orders  
  • Property Settlement
  • Asset Protection 
  • Changing a record of sex on Birth Certificates. 


Nicholes Family Lawyers Proudly Sponsor the 2024 Better Together Conference

Each year Nicholes Family Lawyers is a proud sponsor of ‘Better Together’, a national annual conference hosted by the Equality Project that focusses on educating the public on issues facing Australia’s LGBTQI+ movement.

Nicholes Family Lawyers has always been heavily involvement in the Better Together initiative since 2018, where we hosted the very first planning meeting in our offices – and we have attended and presented on important issues each year.

This year, we are excited to announce that the 2024 Better Together national conference is going to be held in Djilang, Wadawurrung Country (Geelong, Victoria) at GMHBA Stadium, Kardinia Park! We are so delighted to have the conference right around the corner from us.

The Better Together Initiative encourages people from the community to propose sessions to the Equality Project to present on issues facing the LGBTQI+ community, so Better Together can become a space where people can ask important question to allow opportunities for individuals to learn and grow.

As a supportive firm in the LGBTQI+ community we regularly host and participate in presentations informing people about important questions to be asked. Groups who are encouraged to attend the annual conference include the following:

  • LGBTIQA+ advocates and organisations
  • The healthcare and aged care sectors
  • Non-profits, charities, and advocacy organisations
  • Government departments at all levels including local councils
  • Organisations and businesses who provide services for LGBTIQA+ communities
  • Rainbow communities, including families, elders, and young people
  • The sports and wellness sector
  • The arts and entertainment sector
  • Policy professionals
  • Educators, academics, and researchers
  • Media organisations

If you would like to find out more about the Better Together conference, find out how to submit a proposal for a presentation, or register to attend, you can find out more here.

Pictured: Nicholes Family Lawyer’s Senior Associate Eve Dougherty (left), Parter Bec Dahl (center), and Associate Morgan Podesta (right), presenting at the 2023 Better Together national conference in Adelaide.

Nicholes Family Lawyers a Sponsor of the Chillout Festival

Australia’s largest annual Queer Country Pride festival ChillOut was held from 9 to 13 March 2023 in Daylesford, and this year Nicholes Family Lawyers was thrilled to be sponsoring, attending and presenting at this wonderful event.

ChillOut is a culturally important and nationally celebrated LGBTIQA+ Pride occasion, supporting and representing Queer pride for all regional people. It is also incredibly joyous and lots of fun, with a massive program of artistic, entertainment, educational, social and supportive events for all members of the LGBTIQA+ community, allies and supporters.

This year, Nicholes Family Lawyers not only enjoyed the many events on offer, but presented as part of an all-ages panel on gender and “they/them/all of us” on Saturday 11 March at the All Ages Sound Shell event at Hepburn Amphitheatre.

Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner Bec Dahl was joined on the panel by JOY Media CEO Ange Barry, LGBTIQA+ Project Worker and Transgender Advocate Zara Jones, inaugural and former Chair of the Victorian Pride Centre and Victorian Planning Authority Board Chair Jude Munro, as well as high school students from Daylesford College. ABC News Breakfast’s Nate Byrne moderated the session.

Nicholes Family Lawyers at ChillOut: Associate Jessica Coles-Black; Projects and Events Manager Kylie Barnes; CEO Nick Tonkin; Executive Assistant Kelly Black; and Partner Bec Dahl

Mentoring and Pathways for Trans and Non-Binary Women in the Workplace

On Saturday 18 February 2023, Nicholes Family Lawyers Associate Morgan Podesta and Department of Transport and Planning Senior Advisor LGBTIQA+ Portfolio Michelle Sheppard discussed mentoring and pathways for trans and non-binary women in the workplace.

Congratulations to The Equality Project for organising and hosting such an excellent and important conference.

Senior Associate Eve Dougherty, Partner Bec Dahl and Associate Morgan Podesta

Better Together Conference

Nicholes Family Lawyers is proud to be a long-time supporter of The Equality Project, and, as part of this support was delighted to again sponsor the Better Together National LGBTIQ+ Conference in 2023.

The Equality Project is a national LGBTIQA+ charity which brings together LGBTIQA+ people and allies with the aim of promoting a better and fairer society for all Australians.

Nicholes Family Lawyers was delighted to speak at two sessions at The Equality Project Australia “Better Together 2023 Conference” in Adelaide on 17 and 18 February 2023.

“Better Together 2023” is an initiative of The Equality Project, a national LGBTIQA+ charity bringing together LGBTIQA+ people and allies to promote a better, more just, and fairer society for all Australians.

Deakin Law Clinic

We very much enjoyed speaking to the team at the Deakin Law Clinic in September 2022. Not only was it fabulous to speak to such an engaged and diverse group of people, it was also rewarding that the team is so passionate about learning and better understanding how to help the LGBTIQA+ communities.

Nicholes Family Lawyers prides itself on the advocacy we do alongside the LGBTIQA+ community – and we love our weekly slot on JOY Radio (a radio station dedicated to the LGBTIQA+ community, their friends and allies).

What we absolutely love to do is help other lawyers and advisers (including allied health, financial planners and accountants etc.) help the LGBTIQA+ community by better understanding the often unique legal issues they face, the societal and legal challenges they come up against – often daily – and how to create a safe and welcoming environment for all members of this very diverse community.

During this presentation, we shared our expertise, some tips and some strategies on how the Deakin Law Clinic team can help foster a safe, welcoming and inclusive space for members of the LGBTIQA+ community to seek advice from the Clinic, including being aware of how assumptions and unconscious bias can work to the detriment of clients.

We applaud the effervescent Michele Tucker, Principal Solicitor and Clinic Coordinator at Deakin Law Clinic, for her leadership in this space in Geelong. We also applaud the open and inclusive approach that the clinic team adopted in our discussion.

Wear it Purple Day

Nicholes Family Lawyers was delighted to join in celebrating and affirming all rainbow young people on Wear It Purple Day on 26 August 2022.

The day is designed to encourage everyone to foster supportive, safe, empowering, inclusive and loving environments for rainbow young people.

The theme for Wear It Purple Day was ‘Still me, still human’, the message being that society tends to focus on labels, the news story, the target or data and forget what we all truly are – people. The 2022 theme encapsulated the message of humanity, honesty, integrity and authenticity when discussing all diverse identities within the LGBTQIA+ community.

From all of us here at Nicholes Family Lawyers to all rainbow young people, happy Wear It Purple Day!

The baby journey for LGBTIQA+ families

Partner Bec Dahl presented at Monash IVF’s LGBTIQA+ Fertility Retreat on the law related to donor and surrogacy agreements in March 2021. Bec was joined by medical and other experts from other fields at the conference who covered topics including fertility, health and wellbeing for the LGBTIQA+ community.

Nicholes Family Lawyers’ specialist LGBTIQA+ team regularly advises clients on their options for starting a family, such as in vitro fertilisation, donor insemination, surrogacy or using a home procedure for donor insemination. We work alongside other professionals including expert mediators and psychologists who have experience in LGBTIQA+ matters and are familiar with the special legal and non-legal issues people may encounter. We also assist in developing and preparing such agreements and discussing future care arrangements for children.

Podcast Update 2021 – LGBTIQA+ Rights in Israel: An International Comparison

In this podcast, Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner Bec Dahl and Law Clerk Chris Neophitou were joined by Dori Rivkin, Senior Research Scholar and Social Inclusion Team Leader (Family Group) at the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, Israel’s leading centre for applied social research. Bec, Chris and Dori discussed the legal position and rights of LGBTIQA+ people in Israel, as an international comparison to Australia. Listen here.

LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day Panel Discussion

LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day was held on 28 May 2021. To raise awareness of this insidious issue Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner Bec Dahl featured among an expert panel for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ virtual “LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day” panel discussion. The panel discussed how to recognise different types of domestic violence, what to do if someone is experiencing domestic violence and support services available to the LGBTIQA+ community.

The webinar was moderated by Ben Bjarnesen of LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation and the panellists included:

  • Bec Dahl, Nicholes Family Lawyers
  • Eloise Layard, ACON
  • Sina Tehrani, Voices of Change Advocate
  • Shamini Joseph, Rainbow Health Victoria & Queer Family Violence Sector Network

LGBTIQA+ Fertility Retreat

Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner, Bec Dahl, presented at Monash IVF Group‘s free LGBTIQA+ Fertility Retreat on 28 February 2021. Bec discussed the legalities of using a known donor and the legislation surrounding surrogacy in Australia. The retreat featured sessions from leading fertility specialists with a passion for supporting LGBTIQA+ people on their fertility journey, including content for gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans, non binary and gender diverse individuals and their partner or partners.

Podcast Update 2021 – The LGBTIQA+ Community and Thorne Harbour Health

In this podcast, Partner, Bec Dahl, is joined by Jess Hunter, Team Leader in Family Violence Services at Thorne Harbour Health. Thorne Harbour Health is a community-controlled organisation working to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ communities and people living with HIV/AIDS. Bec and Jess discuss the tremendous work that Thorne Harbour Health carries out in the LGBTIQA+ space including its various health services and programs for sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities. Listen here.

Catch Managing Partner, Sally Nicholes, on the JOY 94.9 Drive radio program

Every Wednesday at 4.40pm, Managing Partner, Sally Nicholes of Nicholes Family Lawyers, appears on the JOY 94.9 Drive radio program, with presenters Dee and Warren. JOY is an Australian independent LGBTIQA+ community media organisation, informing, entertaining and empowering rainbow communities across Australia and the world, with the purpose of building a more inclusive society.

Sally and the JOY Drive team discuss important matters including surrogacy, transgender and gender diverse children, the best interests of the child, family violence, wills and estates, financial settlements and much more!

Diversity Series 2020 – ‘The World Post Marriage Equality’

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It is with great pride and honour that Nicholes Family Lawyers worked in conjunction with Victorian Women Lawyers to present the first event in their Diversity Series for 2020 – “The World Post Marriage Equality”.

This event comprised an open panel discussion covering relevant issues that have arisen in relation to rainbow families following the postal survey of 2017. The panel took place on Wednesday the 11th of March, at Nicholes Family Lawyers, Level 12/460 Lonsdale St. Our panellists comprised a range of professionals who have all played critical roles in the LGBTQIA+ field.

Partner Bec Dahl and Chicks Talking Footy awarded the Globe Networking Media Excellence Award 2019

A recent Tweet from the website of the popular radio program on JOY94.9, Chicks Talking Footy, reads:

We won the @globenetworking Media Excellence Award 2019! Thank you to @joy949 for the opportunity to give @AFL and @aflwomens a voice to our LGBTIQA+ Community. We are delighted to do what we love. Footy means so much to so many.

Nicholes Family Lawyers Partner Bec Dahl (pictured above centre) is one of the presenters of this popular radio show and was there to accept this award on the night of 11 October 2019 when the GLOBE awards were announced.

The Globe community awards recognise the inspirational work done by many contributors to enhance Victoria’s gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex communities. This was the sixth time this award ceremony has been held, and this year, GLOBE president Dan De Rochefort opened the event by telling the nominees and finalists that he wanted to congratulate them, telling them “every single one of you is important to our community and we are so proud of you”.

Our firm, Nicholes Family Lawyers, is particularly proud of our Bec’s contribution to this important program. Bec has been involved in this program since its inception in 2016. Anyone who has listened to the program will know that she thoroughly enjoys her broadcasting. She is very knowledgeable about footy and as an original South Australian, she naturally barracks for the Adelaide Crows.

The program has been instrumental in promoting women and the LGBTIQA+ community in football, particularly with their broadcasts of the AFL and AFLW Pride Grames.

Our warm congratulations go to Bec, the Chicks Talking Footy Team, and to all the GLOBE community award winners for 2019. We hope they go from strength to strength!

The Equality Project

Nicholes Family Lawyers are proud supporters of The Equality Project.

The Equality Project is an organisation committed to bringing together LGBTIQ+ people with their allies to advocate for a better, more just, and fairer society for all.

In January 2018 Partner Bec Dahl and Managing Partner Sally Nicholes presented at the Equality Project’s Better Together Conference alongside Justice Alexandra Harland, Forensic Psychologist Robert Simon and Louise Johnson from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority. The national conference held in Melbourne explored current issues facing the LGBTIQA+ movement and focused on intersectional discussion. You can read more about the event on our blog.

In 2019 Bec presented at the 2nd Annual Better Together Conference which was held in Sydney. She participated in a panel discussion on LGBTIQA+ Families alongside Robert Simon and Alison Delpercio.

Dance Cats

Since 2015, Nicholes Family Lawyers have supported the Australian Same Sex Dancesport Championships through our involvement with Dance Cats.

Many of our staff and friends attended the event in February 2018 and enjoyed a night celebrating Australia’s diverse community, whilst witnessing a showcase of Australia’s best same-sex dancers compete for top honours.

TEN – First LGBTI Conference

Partner Bec Dahl and Managing Partner Sally Nicholes both presented at the Television Education Network’s First Annual LGBTI Legal and Regulatory Conference held in Melbourne in May of 2017.

On the first day of the conference Sally alongside Dr Michelle Telfer spoke on special medical procedures for transgender teenagers.

On the second day of the conference Bec addressed the issue of Domestic Violence in the LGBTI Community discussing the different forms of family violence and the impact of family violence on property proceedings.