The High Court recently delivered a decision regarding a sperm donor being considered as a parent of a child in the case of Masson v Parsons & Ors.

The case was regarding a woman (“Jane”) being inseminated with sperm of a male friend (“John”). John provided his sperm to Jane on the understanding that he would enjoy a close relationship with the child, be listed as the father on the child’s Birth Certificate and also provide financial, health, educational and welfare support to the child.

Circumstances of the Case

This arrangement commenced at the child’s birth and continued even when Jane commenced a relationship with her partner (“Jill”).

When the child was eight years old, Jane and Jill decided they wanted to relocate to New Zealand with the child. John immediately commenced proceedings to prevent Jane and Jill from leaving with the child.

Although John does not qualify as a parent under s 60H of the Family Law Act 1975, the High Court found that the provision expanded rather than restricted the categories of people who can be classed as parents.  The Court further held that whether a person is a parent is a question of fact and degree with consideration to the ordinary contemporary Australian understanding of a parent. As John had an ongoing role in the child’s life, both emotionally and financially, the Court held that he was a parent of the child.


Although this case has not determined whether a man who only donates his sperm can be considered a father, it does indicate that the answer is not straightforward and will largely depend on the unique circumstances of each matter.

If you are concerned about your current parenting agreement following an artificial insemination procedure and you would like to have a chat with one of our solicitors about your arrangements, please complete the form below or call (07) 3211 2233.