Surrogacy refers to an arrangement for a woman to become pregnant, with the intention to give the child to another person or couple when they are born. 

There is a presumption in Australian law that when a woman gives birth to a child, she and her partner are parents of that child. This presents obvious issues where the birth mother is a surrogate mother. 

Surrogacy laws in Australia allow for a Parentage Order to be obtained where a surrogacy agreement has been entered into. Unlike other areas of family law, surrogacy is regulated by state and territory governments. 

Altruistic surrogacy is where the surrogate mother receives no compensation for carrying and delivering the child. The mother is still able to be reimbursed for certain medical and legal expenses associated with the surrogacy. This is the opposite to commercial surrogacy, whereby the surrogate receives a payment for her services. 

As there is no payment, altruistic surrogacy agreements are generally unenforceable contracts, other than to ensure that the surrogate’s expenses are covered. However, the agreement is a prerequisite to apply for a Parentage Order. 

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in all states in Australia and in many other countries. This acknowledges the exploitation risks to the child and surrogate mother, as is the case in some international commercial surrogacy agreements. 

If you are considering surrogacy as an option to expand and grow your family, it is important you obtain legal advice before entering into any surrogacy agreement or to assist you in making a parentage order with the court.

Adoption

Adoption laws across Australia are governed by the laws of each State and Territory where you live. 

A child is deemed to be adopted when that child becomes legally recognised as part of the family adopted the child. An Application by the non-biological parents is to be made whereby they seek parental responsibility for the child. 

If the Application is successful, the adopted child automatically assumes the same rights, privileges and responsibilities that a birth child, biological parents and adopting parents are entitled to. 

Single parents are permitted to adopt a child however this is not the case in Victoria. Same sex couples are permitted to adopt a child however this is not the case in the Northern Territory. 

Our team of expert lawyers have experience in adoption and surrogacy matters, and can work closely with you through each process.