Surrogacy and parentage constitute two facets of Australia’s Family Law Act that require additional clarification, interpretation or possible reconsideration. To start with, specific sections of the Family Law Act are proposed to regulate various matters related to surrogacy and recognition, such as the recognition of parental status stemming from the use of surrogacy, etc. However, the wording of the statutory provisions does not always make it clear whether a certain part of the Act has application to a particular surrogacy related matter. In this connection, it is often vital to have recourse to case law.
The conventional definition of surrogacy under Australian case law is that it is an arrangement whereby a woman, the surrogate mother, consents to bear a child for another individual or couple. There is a wide range of legal forms of surrogacy under Australian law. Thus, ‘genetic’ or ‘partial’ surrogacy pertains to the engagement of the surrogate mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm. On the other hand, ‘gestational’ or ‘full’ surrogacy means agreements whereby the surrogate mother does not provide her own genetic material for the purpose of conception.