Reproductive Assistance Law

Reign Legal Principal Melissa Buchanan is passionate about advising same-sex couples and single parents-to-be on the implementation of solid Parenting Agreements that provide security and support their intentions, in the early stages of taking delivery of their child via surrogacy or engaging with a sperm donor in donor pregnancy.

The Parenting Agreement aims to ensure and further solidify that your child is considered a child of your relationship, and that the surrogate or sperm donor remains as that – a person with no parenting obligations.

With a keen awareness of the pain and desperation felt by couples and individuals to have a child, many of which IVF or surrogacy is simply unattainable financially, and who may willingly risk future family court applications being brought against them due to lack of paperwork and knowledge; Melissa is providing support and advice to protect against potential future litigation from what is referred to as ‘interested persons applications’.

Should a surrogate or donor bring an application to spend time with the child as ‘interested person’ in the future, it is likely this would be unsuccessful due to the coupling of strong agreements of donor or surrogacy clinics and agencies, where used, and the creation, where necessary of a parenting agreement which was established and executed upon the birth of the child.

For international surrogacy matters, Melissa works in partnership with the chosen surrogacy agency who are managing the surrogate and the surrogacy process, and where donor sperm is used, preparing agreements to be sent to the donor on behalf of the client which also ensures:

  1. The safe passage of an internationally born surrogate baby home to Australia with their parents; and/or
  2. The written renunciation of any parenting obligations of a donor of sperm;

Each case is different, with diverse and complex needs and challenges.  Melissa’s clients have included couples in a long-distance relationship residing in Australia and Asia, who in addition to the Parenting agreement also required liaison with their immigration agent to support one parent’s application for permanent residency and VISA status; to another requiring support for succession pregnancies, planning to bring two babies’ home.  Melissa will carefully review the individual needs for each parent and situation and present advice on the best steps forward.

Frequently asked questions:

For parents to have the most protection available that works to ensure that your child is considered, and remains considered, a child of your relationship; and the surrogate or sperm donor remains a person with no parenting obligations.

Should a surrogate or donor change their mind in the future, and bring an application to spend time with your child as an “interested person” these documents serve to best assist, where advice of Melissa is strictly followed, to most likely to result in those applications being eventually or immediately unsuccessful.

The preparation of the Parenting Agreements starts in the early stages of pregnancy, to provide enough time for the surrogate (via an agency) to have the agreement translated, interpreted and ensure it is understood; and therefore will be entering into the agreement of their own free will and volition, free from duress and pressure.  All parties then execute the agreement post-birth, and the new parents and baby are ready to travel home.

The process of drafting of the Parenting Agreement usually takes one month. It begins with an initial meeting online to take instructions, then a first draft is prepared. Then, liaising with the surrogacy agency involved, the already executed surrogacy agreements and contracts are considered and the draft is settled and sent first to the client (the intended parents), and then to the surrogacy agency to be translated and provided to the surrogate.

In the case of a donor arrangement, the draft will be sent to the client first, then to the donor with clear instructions to obtain their own independent legal advice prior to execution.

100% of our international surrogacy agreements have resulted in return home and safe passage without a singular issue. Reign Legal has supported approximately 20 same-sex couples to date.

Whilst the parenting agreement is signed post birth as an affirmation of the process and agreement to renunciations of parenting obligations, the agreement does not guarantee that in the future that a surrogate cannot try to make an application in Australian Courts to ‘spend time with the child’. The Australian Family Law Act permits these applications being made under 65C.  It also does not preclude breach by the surrogate of surrogacy agreements signed pre birth given that these agreements can only be executed and operate after birth of a child.

However – The work undertaken by the surrogacy agency coupled with your Reign Legal Parenting Agreement will make the job of a person making such an application onerously difficult.

No, Parenting Agreements between parents-to-be and their surrogate or sperm donors is the only reproductive legal service we provide.  We suggest speaking with your treating practitioner about access to very reliable service providers in this space.

Melissa Buchanan Reproductive Assistance Law

To speak to Melissa about Parenting Agreements for Reproductive Assistance legal matters, contact her at:

Melissa Buchanan
Principal / Director

[email protected]
03 7043 1055