Parenting Outside the Normative Framework: Australia's Single Mothers by Choice
29(2) Australian Journal of Family Law (Lexis Nexis) 90-110
22 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2016 Last revised: 7 Dec 2017
Date Written: 2015
Over the past three decades, single mothers by choice (SMCs) — women who choose to conceive or adopt a child with the intention of being the child’s sole parent — have emerged as a significant and growing phenomenon. Yet until very recently, this new form of non-normative family has been largely ignored by legal academics and the legislature. The effect of this lack of attention has been the creation of a legal landscape that is largely antithetical to the needs of SMCs and their children. As the Family Law Council of Australia recently noted in its report on parentage and the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), when a child is conceived via assisted reproduction the Act distinguishes between a woman with a partner and a single woman, creating uncertainty for SMCs and their children, as well as inconsistencies between the federal and state and territory laws. The effect of this differential treatment is evidenced in the Family Court’s decision in Groth v Banks, which appears to suggest that, whatever the pre-conception intention, a single woman can never be her child’s sole parent if her sperm donor is known. This article explores the legal issues raised by single mothering by choice in the Australian context.
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