What other options are available to LGBTIQ couples or individuals wishing to have children?

It is not uncommon for gay men to enter into co-parenting arrangements with single women or lesbian couples.

For example, a single gay man may provide a female couple or single woman with a sperm donation for an insemination or IVF procedure and co-parent the child. Alternately, where one member of a gay couple provides a sperm donation, the couple may co-parent with a lesbian couple or a single woman.

The parties to a co-parenting arrangement should discuss and agree upon the details of the arrangement prior to conception. Important issues to resolve include:

  • the amount of time the child will spend with each of the parties;
  • how decisions will be made; and
  • what financial support will be provided by each of the parties.

It is recommended that parties to an arrangement speak to a counsellor experienced in issues relating to LGBTIQ parents planning a family and parenting. It is also recommended that all parties seek legal advice in deciding who will be the legal parents of the child. Under Australian law, a child can only have two legal parents.

Parental responsibility can, however, be shared between three or more people. To enable such an arrangement, an application for a parenting order conferring parental responsibility upon all of the parties should be made to the Family Law Courts. The parenting order will be granted if the court considers that it would be in the best interests of the child to do so. If an order is made, decisions about major long-term issues relating to the child will be required to be made jointly by those persons sharing parental responsibility.

Where there is disagreement as to a co-parenting arrangement after a child's birth, a party may be able to apply to the Family Law Courts for parenting orders. For more information, please see the below sections;

  • Section 5: Sperm Donors - 'Can the donor be prevented from forming a relationship with the child, or having contact with the child?'; and
  • Section 7: Surrogacy - 'What if the birth parent refuses to surrender the child?'; which may also apply to co-parenting arrangements.

In Wilson v Roberts (No 2) (2010), the Family Court made parenting orders that a two-year-old child spend time with his donor and his donor's same-sex partner. Prior to the child's birth the man and his partner had formed an oral agreement with the child's birth parent and her same-sex partner that he would donate his sperm, on the understanding that both men would play a significant role in parenting the child. After the child's birth, the women refused to allow the men to have contact with the child. The Court found that the child should have the benefit of the men's involvement in the child's life, although the women were the child's legal parents and had parental responsibility for the child.