Sperm donor removed from birth certificate

Date: Aug 25, 2011

A NSW sperm donor had his name removed from the birth certificate of a child he fathered after a judge found that state law allowed for only two parents to be registered - and the second name was to be the mother's former partner.

The female child was born in 2001, with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages recording the details of the parents according to the laws at the time.

However, a retroactive change to the relevant legislation meant that when the mother's ex-partner - the couple separated in 2006 - took the registry and the biological father to court to request the alterations, the judge had no choice but to comply.

In delivering his findings, NSW District Court Judge Stephen Walmsley said he expressed sympathy for the man's plight, recognising his strong emotional attachment to the child.

However, he was unable to find any contractual reason for this specific change to be denied.

Judge Walmsley also suggested that changes be made to the registration requirements that could allow for sperm donors to be officially recognised on the birth certificate.

"No doubt a provision for registration of a third parent for a situation such as this one might be a neat answer to the problem this case presents," asserted Judge Walmsley.

In an interview with ABC radio 702's Drive program on August 18, the biological father expressed his frustration at the court's findings.

The man said that he felt the current laws were inadequate in protecting the rights of biological parents in these cases.

He also admitted that the lack of a written parenting plan that dictated issues such as child custody, maintenance payments and time spent with the child contributed to the confusion over just how much input he had.

"After the child was born there was no clear setup as to what contact I was going to have," he asserted.

"At the moment I don't even know if she is my daughter and I'm her father."

The process began when the man - who is homosexual and cannot be named for legal reasons - placed an ad seeking a single woman or couple to bear a child he could be the father of. The lesbian partners who eventually contacted the man were seeking a sperm donor at the same time.

When the two mothers eventually separated, the man continued to support both the birth mother and his child, reportedly supplying "tens of thousands of dollars" over the years.

This case highlights the importance of receiving trusted legal advice from an experienced source - such as a family lawyer - before embarking on agreements of this nature.