Archive

Archive for the ‘Co-Parenting’ Category

The Australian – "Gay Dad in Appeal to Find Son" by AAP

December 19, 2008 1 comment

A GAY father has launched an international appeal for help to find his son, whom he believes may be living in Australia.

Michael Turberville has not seen seven-year-old son Ashley Skinner since the child disappeared with his mother, Joanne Skinner, more than a year ago after a custody battle, British media reported today.

Mr Turberville pleaded with anyone who knew the boy’s whereabouts to alert authorities.

“It is gut-wrenching not to be able to see my son,” he told the Evening Standard newspaper.

Dual US-British citizen Mr Turberville reportedly fathered Ashley with Ms Skinner after advertising in another publication for a “like-minded” lesbian. Both parents were in same-sex relationships at the time.

Ms Skinner’s mother received a letter from her in April sent from the US, but Mr Turberville believes it was written in Australia and passed on to someone in America to post.

The letter said Ashley had started school.

The UK’s top family court judge, High Court family division president Sir Mark Potter, took the unusual step of lifting reporting restrictions which apply in children’s cases in hopes the publicity would help trace Ashley.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Royal Courts of Justice in London on +44 207 947 6200.

[Link: Original Article ]

Advertisements
Categories: Co-Parenting, Sperm Donor

Australian Gay & Lesbian Law Blog – "NSW: Bill passes Upper House" by Stephen Page

June 4, 2008 1 comment

(Stephen Page) previously reported that New South Wales Attorney-General John Hatzistergos had introduced a Bill to Parliament to amend 55 pieces of legislation, including now providing a presumption that where a woman gives birth and is in a lesbian relationship and going through IVF, then her partner will also be deemed to be a parent.

This Bill, with amendments, has now passed the Upper House and is on its way to the Lower House.

Fred Nile’s most significant amendment was to allow fathers to be shown on the birth certificate for children of lesbian couples, if the fathers wanted to. Here is what he (and Hatzistergos) said:

[Fred Nile]Insert after clause 5 (2):

(3) If the particulars supplied to the Registrar under section 14 of the Act specify that:

(a) a parent who is the father of the child wishes to be identified in the Register as the father, or

(b) a parent who is the birth mother of the child wishes to be identified in the Register as the mother,

or both, the particulars entered in the Register under section 17 of the Act must identify the parent as the father or mother, as the case requires. This subclause does not limit the particulars which may be included in the Register.

The amendment seeks to address the criticism that the bill’s wording seems to devalue the role of the father in that it gives the appearance that the father would not be shown on the birth certificate in this circumstance. What appeared to be an omission and a downgrading of the role of the father has caused a deal of concern about the legislation as a whole; indeed, most of the criticism has focused on that aspect. I have been endeavouring, as have other members, to find a way of resolving that situation. The Attorney General has indicated that it was never the Government’s intention to make any statement in the legislation about the role of the father or the importance of fatherhood. If that is the case—and I believe it to be the case—I seek the Government’s support for the amendment and the support of Opposition members by way of a conscience vote.

The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS (Attorney General, and Minister for Justice) [11.22 p.m.]: The Government will support the amendment. As I clearly indicated in my second reading speech, it is not the Government’s intention to modify the way birth certificates are issued in the sense of removing the names of mothers and fathers. Indeed, the current practice in relation to the naming of mothers and fathers has been an administrative practice that is not regulated by specific provisions. However, in order to allay any concerns we are happy to support the amendment.

Click here for Hansard of the debate.

[Link: Original Article]

ABC Online – "Rights Win for Lesbian Families"

The rights of New South Wales children with lesbian parents have been expanded under legislation passed by the State Government.

The law clears the way for children from lesbian couples to inherit money from their non-birth parent and receive workers’ compensation on behalf of their non-birth parent.

It also allows both mothers to appear on their child’s birth certificate.

NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says the Bill is a big step.

“It means that the non-birth parent will have obligations to that child in the same way that every other parent has,” he said.

“It also means that child will have the same relationship with the non-birth parent as they do with their birth parent.”

Mr Hatzistergos says shadow attorney-general Greg Smith defied his own party in voting against the Bill.

“The Opposition is hopelessly divided on this issue but it’s important to recognise that the vote was carried 64 to 11,” he said.

“With Mr Smith being one of the few leading spokespersons within the Opposition voting against the legislation, he not only defied his leader but also the leader of the National party.”

Emily Gray, from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, says many Liberal MPs, who voted against the reforms, were confused about the meaning of reforms.

“A lot of that was stemming from the fact that they believed that fathers would be removed from birth certificates following these reforms and that’s just simply not true at all,” she said.

Ms Gray says the changes have been long-awaited.

“With 71 per cent of the Australian population now supporting equal rights for same-sex couples, it’s about time that this equality came through,” she said. “We’re really happy that it has.”

[Link: Original Article]

Sydney Star Observer – "Rudd’s Broken Promise" by Emily Gray & Peter Johnson


In response to the 2007 pre-election survey from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and ACON, Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party promised the following: “Labor is committed to equality for gay men, lesbians and same-sex couples and, if elected, will remove provisions which discriminate on the basis of sexuality, with the exception of the Marriage Act.”

Last week the federal government indicated that it would not be including the Family Law Act 1975 in its first raft of reforms to provide equality for same-sex couples. A few weeks ago the Rudd government announced its plans to introduce equal rights for lesbian and gay couples in many areas. We will have the same super benefits, tax breaks and access to healthcare as straight couples. The Rudd Labor government has decided not to include the Family Law Act 1975 at this time. If they continue to exclude it, this will be a broken promise.

The omission of the Family Law Act 1975 from the package of announced reforms will have a number of discriminatory impacts for our community. A lesbian co-mother will not be recognised as a “parent” in child-related court proceedings in the Family Court. This creates uncertainty for a child in the event of a relationship break-up. This also means that a birth mother cannot pursue child support through the Child Support Scheme from the co-mother in the event of a break-up. Already, lesbian parents have to go to enormous financial and personal costs to secure child support for their children and resolve conflicts on the breakdown of a relationship.

Leaving out this reform will also contribute to discrepancies between federal and state law, leaving couples uncertain about their rights and the rights of their children. We are talking about a significant number of people. An estimated 20 percent of lesbians have children and this figure is likely to be increasing. The 2006 Census recorded at least 4,386 children living in same-sex families in Australia. This change is necessary to ensure the majority of same-sex families are treated equitably. It is in the best interests of these thousands of children to have the economic and emotional security which comes with the legal recognition of their families

[Link: Original Article]

Time Out Sydney – "Doting Dads" by Andrew Georgiou

However and whenever the calling to be a dad arises, the fact is that gay men make incredibly loving, nurturing and open-minded parents. In this special report, Andrew Georgiou looks at the different roads to gay fatherhood in Australia.

Click on the images to see full size.


Doting Dads

However and whenever the calling to be a dad arises, the fact is that gay men make incredibly loving, nurturing and open-minded parents. In this special report, Andrew Georgiou looks at the different roads to gay fatherhood in Australia.

Parental instincts. Some men are born with them, for others the desire to be a gay dad kicks in later in life. Gay Dads Australia is a national group of gay men who celebrate the joys of fatherhood through online forums, social gatherings and exchange of resources on their website which has been operating for just over five years.

Rodney Cruise, 42, runs the Gay Dads Australia website which boasts over 400 members between NSW and Victoria. While Cruise and his partner 39-year-old Jeff Chiang have experienced the joys of parenting their 15-month-old son Ethan through a surrogacy arrangement they underwent in the United States, Cruise notes that gay dads across the country have fulfilled their dreams of fatherhood through a variety of scenarios.

“We have dads who have become fathers through known donor arrangements, co-parenting agreements, surrogacy and those with children through previous relationships with women”.

Each situation varies, but the fact remains: a greatly loved child is the ultimate outcome.

Surrogacy

Mostly exercised through surrogacy agencies in the United States, this process is proving to be increasingly popular with gay men in Australia with the desire to be full time dads. Surrogacy sees a gay man or gay male couple firstly choosing an egg donor through a clinic and fertilizing that egg with one of the couple’s sperm. With the assistance of a surrogacy agency, the male couple are introduced to a surrogate whom through IVF, will be implanted with the fertilized egg and carry the baby for the couple to full term. The surrogate is in no way linked to the child, leaving the biological father and his partner as the legal parents to raise the child in Australia.

In 2006 Cruise and Chiang were blessed with their first son Ethan through the assistance of US based Surrogacy agency Growing Generations, which has helped over 500 couples become parents. Their affection and connection with their chosen surrogate developed so strongly during her pregnancy with their son, Rodney and Jeff extended their family network to include Kelly into their now 15 month old son Ethan’s life.

“Even though they are in the US and we live here, Kelly and her family are now a part of ours”, says Jeff.

“Women like her, do this because they genuinely want to help people become parents”. Cruise’s partner Jeff comes from a traditional Taiwanese family which has a long history of basing family on geography rather than biology.

“Jeff’s extended family is made up of people who have descended from his parents village who are often not biologically related. When you think about it these were the first alternative families, and Jeff and I continue that tradition by creating our sense of family as loving and devoted fathers to Ethan” says Cruise.

It’s inspiring to see that a traditional Taiwanese culture can embrace the concept of gay parenting, while negative sensationalism perpetuated in the local media can feed intolerance from with Australia’s wider community. While the costs involved in becoming parents reached the $150,000 mark, Rodney and Jeff’s natural paternal instincts will see them extend their family again when the surrogate for their next child is chosen in May.

“The concept of the traditional family is rather outdated,” says Cruise, “the genetic make up of a family is irrelevant to us. We believe a family is about love.”

Known Donor

The flipside to the surrogacy scenario is the known donor situation where a gay male provides the sperm to single lesbian or a lesbian who is partnered. The basis of this arrangement sees the single or coupled lesbians raise the child with any parental rights or responsibility placed on the biological father. Individual arrangements may be made where the father sees the child throughout his or her upbringing, as either an uncle, family friend or even as dad, though the parental rights are reserved exclusively for the lesbian couple. Known donor cases are usually carried without issue as they have taken on a specific role, which takes a step back from the role and responsibilities of raising the child. 39-year-old Allan from Sydney’s inner West is the very proud known donor to nineteen-month-old Zara.

While Allan spends quality time with Zara and enjoys a close friendship with her lesbian parents, he has maintained the agreement, which sees Zara’s mothers as her full time parents. “I’m very close to the girls and Zara and see them every week. My reward for the gift I have given the girls is seeing the immense joy Zara has brought to everyone’s lives, including grandparents,” says Allan.

“I guess I am seen as a satellite figure or even uncle, and that has worked out incredibly well for all of us. All of our friends have been extremely supportive of the situation.” Last month the NSW Government made its long awaited announcement that it would commit to amending laws to give same-sex parents of children conceived through artificial fertilization the right to officially registered the names of both mothers on a child’s birth certificate.

Co-parenting

Sees the single male or gay male couple act as a co-parent, along side a single or couple lesbian. This arrangement may see a child with two mothers and two fathers, which ultimately provides a double dose of devotion and love for the child. “The biggest issue for gay dads in co-parenting is working out a reasonable arrangement with a lesbian couple and maintaining it,” say Gay Dads Australia’s Rodney Cruise. “Often couples may site down prior to the arrangement and figure out who will see the child and when.”

Many Australian children may have four heterosexual parents through divorce and new marriages, the child of four gay parents often grow up with the extended family from birth. Co-parenting may see the child living with either sets of parents on a full or part time basis based upon a mutal agreement between the male and female couples.

Adoption

Adoption ofr gay singles and couples is legal in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands, Australia has failed to catch up to speed. In 2007 a WA couple made Australian history by being the first gay couple granted the right to adopt, however since the landmark ruling no other couples have been allowed to follow suit. Though inter-country adoption between Australian and co-adoption countries such as China exist for heterosexuals, the same rights are not currently extended to gay and lesbian singles or couples wanting to adopt.

Previous relationship

Like countless other gay fathers across Australia, 45-year-old Gregory Duffy, from Sydney’s East has enjoyed the riches of fatherhood through children born out of a previous heterosexual relationship. “I was married, in love and ultimately wanted to start a family and have children of my own,” recalls Duffy.

After the birth of his second daughter, Duffy came to terms with his own sexuality. “I came out to myself toward the end of 1993, and left the marriage when my children Victoria and Georgia were five and two-and-a-half years old. All they really knew was that Dad had left but not for a deeper reason. I did not officially come out to my wife till at least 6 months later.”

“Finally, we began to talk about a whole lot of issues we never touched on before.”

Although Duffy did not come out to his eldest daughter Victoria for another seven years, he recalls his eldest girl struggling with the decision more than his youngest.

“Victoria was quite upset and didn’t fully understand what it was for me to be gay, but after numerous long chats she slowly adjusted and actually felt it was quite cool to have a gay dad!”

Today Greg enjoys a wonderful relationship with Victoria, 19 and Georgina, 16. “Having two beautiful daughters that accept me for who I am and have never judged me for being gay has enriched our relationship. It has been an interesting and emotional journey, but to know I have had their love and support has made the road much easier to travel.”

For more information on Gay Dads Australia and advice on surrogacy go to http://www.gaydadsaustralia.com.

[Link: Original Article]

Sydney Morning Herald – "Father to go from birth certificates" by Heath Gilmore


A CONTROVERSIAL new bill that will remove the word “father” from birth certificates to recognise lesbian couples who have children through IVF will be put before NSW Parliament.

Fifty laws across NSW covering the Local Government Act, Industrial Relations Act and the constitution will be amended to include new parental presumption protection for female same-sex couples.

The bill equates the position of a lesbian partner of a woman who has a child after becoming pregnant by a fertilisation procedure, other than sexual intercourse, with the position of a married woman’s husband. Lesbian parents will see expressions such as “birth mother” replace “mother” and “both parents” to replace “the father and the mother” on birth certificates.

Lesbian parents will also be given protection for their children under workers’ compensation, inheritance law and parent-teacher nights at school. Schools will also be forced to recognise both partners in a lesbian couple as “parents”.

However, a number of NSW Coalition MPs have deep moral concerns about the bill. On Tuesday the Coalition voted to give members a conscience vote on the issue. Shadow Attorney-General Greg Smith said some MPs were concerned that the role of fatherhood was undermined by the bill, which is expected to be debated this parliamentary session. It is understood Mr Smith proposed the conscience vote.

Minister for Women Verity Firth said the Opposition’s decision to hold a conscience vote on laws to give equal rights to the children of same-sex couples was evidence of the Opposition’s lack of leadership.

The conservative Australian Family Association is campaigning against the change.

Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Emily Gray said the changes would give children added emotional and financial stability.

[Link: Original Article]

Relationship and Parent Rights Question & Answer – Jenni Millbank

April 22, 2008 Leave a comment


Jenni Millbank is a Barrister and Professor of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney. Jenni has an extensive background in family law and same-sex relationship recognition.

This is an extract of the advice provided on the GLRL website (www.glrl.org.au)

Please note that this column is information of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice.
*NEW* Questions Answered this Month:

* Both I and my same-sex partner want to migrate from our home country to Australia. Can we do this together as a couple under the skilled migration program?
* The federal government lacks the constitutional power to introduce civil unions (as the power it is granted in the constitution is over “marriage”, “divorce” and “matrimonial causes”). What are some options available to get around this problem?
* Are fertility clinics in NSW and Qld prohibited from providing access to lesbians?
* Is it possible to become a parent through surrogacy in Australia? What is the law with regards to payment to the surrogate mother by the donors?
* What is the age of consent in NSW?

Previously Answered Questions:

Adoption, Surrogacy and Parenting

* Are agreements between donors and mothers binding?
* What is the legal position of known and anonymous donors?
* Is second parent adoption possible in Australia, ie can a lesbian co-mother adopt children born to her partner?
* Would marriage give the right to adopt? Or would civil unions or de facto status do so?
* What is the legal standing of surrogacy in Australia for gay men wanting to be fathers?

Civil Unions and Marriage

* What federal rights available to married and de facto couples are not available to couples under a state-based civil union?
* Do married couples have more rights than de facto couples at federal level?
* Some people are against marriage because historically marriage treated women as property. Are women disadvantaged in any way in modern day marriage?
* What is the difference between relationship registration and civil unions?
* If I register my relationship in Tasmania or have a civil union in the ACT, will that be recognised in federal law – eg for immigration purposes will I be treated as married rather than as interdependent?

De Facto Relationships

* What relationship rights do I have at the moment?
* How is de facto recognition different from marriage or civil unions?
* I read that the De Facto Relationships Act applies 11 tests to determine the legal validity of a de facto relationship, and that typically gay men can only satisfy 4 of these 11 criteria. Is this so?
* How do I prove I am in a de facto relationship?
* Would federal recognition of same-sex couples as de facto relationships take away any of our current rights at state level?
* Would de facto recognition at federal level allow a government that did not like same-sex relationships to ban same-sex relationship recognition, like the marriage ban?

Protecting your Relationship Rights

* What rights do straight couples have that I don’t have?
* What can I do to get legal rights and protection for my relationship now?
* What is a “domestic relationship agreement”?
* How can I enter into a domestic relationship agreement and how much will it cost?

Sex

* What is the age of consent in NSW?

Superannuation

* How do I prove my relationship for superannuation

To find out the answer to these questions and more, visit the GLRL website at http://www.glrl.org.au or click here.