Under the Family Law Act same-sex and heterosexual couples have the same entitlements under the law, including the right to marry. As a result, all relevant issues and proceedings regarding family law can be applied to same-sex couples.
Where a couple has a child via a surrogacy arrangement, the intended parents are required to file an application with the Court in their State seeking an order that the parentage of the child be transferred from the birth mother to the intended parents. Adoption is another means of recognising a child as one’s own, absent of any biological connection. Adoption orders are granted by the State Supreme Courts. In regards to property settlement procedures, the grounds which are required to be established to do so differ between married and de facto couples.
Ensure you observe the criteria Court has set out which establishes what constitutes a de facto relationship before engaging in property proceedings.
Since the definition of “marriage” under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) was changed in 2017, same sex couples can marry and have the same entitlements under the law as heterosexual couples. Same sex couples may be married or de facto (provided they meet the relevant considerations which would indicate a de facto relationship exists). Please see our separate article for further information about the existence of a de-facto relationship.
In some instances, couples may elect to have a child via a surrogacy arrangement.
Surrogacy is a type of assisted reproduction which sees a woman who is called the surrogate or birth mother carry a pregnancy for the benefit of another person or couple. The child born from a surrogacy arrangement is returned to the intended parents who can then be recognised as the legal parents of that child.
Adoption is the process whereby a child becomes recognised as a child of a person or couple, absent of any biological connection. In doing so, the parents become the legal parents of that child and adopt the rights and obligations of a biological parent. Adoption also has the effect of removing the legal rights of the birth parents of that particular child.
In some families, adoption arises when people seek to adopt someone already within their family unit such as a step child. In other instances, families choose to bring a new child into their family with whom they do not have an existing relationship such as an overseas adoption or adoption of an orphan.
De facto relationships describe a couple, whether of the same sex or different, who are not married but live together. You will have the same rights as a married couple if you register your de facto relationship or meet the time requirement of 2 years. Some de facto relationships can be difficult to show in which case a Court may consider further factors to determine de facto status and subsequent entitlements.