Were they in a de facto relationship at the time of the IVF conception? Which case won?
Same-sex couple undergoes successful IVF procedure
A case heard in the Family Court centred on a rather unusual dispute between two women who were in a same-sex relationship. The women commenced a de facto relationship in 2004, sharing a residence for the following seven years.
In July 2011, one of the women underwent a successful IVF procedure. The donor of the egg for this procedure was the other woman.
However, the relationship was a tumultuous one. On 21 March 2011, prior to the IVF procedure, the woman who was to be the donor moved out of the residence that the women had shared.
Did the relationship end when one of the women moved out?
According to the woman who underwent the IVF procedure, the de facto relationship ended at the point when her partner moved out. However, the egg donor claimed that the de facto relationship between them continued for some months after she had moved out and that it still existed at the time of the IVF procedure.
Importance of de facto status at time of IVF procedure
Whether the women were in a de facto relationship at the time of the IVF procedure was the key question that the court had to answer. If the de facto relationship still existed, the egg donor was a “parent” of the child in the eyes of the law.
This would have significant legal implications for all parties and would be considered when the court determined an appropriate parenting plan for the child. The birth mother of the child strongly opposed this interpretation.