The High Court of Australia will soon decide if sperm donors can also be dads.
Australia’s highest court is set to hear a landmark case, the outcome of which will re-define what exactly it means to be a parent.
The case involves two girls, their mother, and the man who is the eldest child’s biological father.
Pseudonyms are being used in the proceedings to protect the privacy of the family.
The man is going through the court system in an attempt to block the mother of his biological daughter from moving overseas with her partner and the children.
The man claims that that his role in the lives of the girls has always been more than that of a ‘sperm donor’.
According to the man, he and the children’s mother had been friends for 20 years when together they devised a plan that would allow the woman to become a mother.
She was, at the time, in a same-sex relationship with her current partner.
According to the man, he agreed to father the child on the condition he could be ‘a dad’.
He cut the umbilical cord of the girl and claims he has been in her life ever since, attending countless ballet rehearsals and other childhood events.
His name is on her birth certificate and she and her sister, who is not his biological offspring, both call him ‘daddy’.
According to the man, the first time he heard himself referred to as a sperm donor was when he took legal action to prevent the women from moving oversees.
The case has highlighted an inconsistency in the laws that cover sperm donation in NSW.
Under NSW state law, a sperm donor is presumed not to be the father of any child conceived using his sperm unless he is the husband or de facto partner of the mother.
However, Commonwealth laws do not define the rights of a sperm donor if the mother does not have a partner at the time of conception.
Initially, the Family Court found in that the man was the father of the girl, due to his intentions at the time of her conception, his involvement in her life and his genetic contribution.
But the full Family Court overturned the finding, deciding that the state act should be applied and Mr Masson could not be considered the girl’s parent.
The outcome of the High Court case could have widespread ramifications for same sex couples, many who use known donors who remain present in the lives of the offspring.
The case also highlights the dangers of entering into informal sperm donation agreements.