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FAMILY LAW IN CANBERRA – CHILD CUSTODY AND PARENTING – Family Court chief seeks surrogacy law change

By April 19, 2015No Comments

On 15 April 2015 University of Queensland News posts:

Australia should urgently legalise commercial surrogacy, says the Family Court’s Chief Justice, Diana Bryant.

Justice Bryant was the keynote speaker at a lecture and discussion hosted by The University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law and the Australian Association of Women Judges on 17 April 2015.

Justice Bryant said laws should be standardised across the states and territories to avoid complex court cases and to end uncertainty for surrogate babies, mothers and contracting parents.

“The law must keep up with scientific and societal changes,” Justice Bryant said.

“Commercial surrogacy is not legal in Australia, but some fear this is driving people overseas to do it.

“Parents who return to Australia with a surrogate baby – especially those who have made surrogacy arrangements in breach of the law in their state of residence – face complications in the Family Court system.

“This causes great stress for all concerned.”

Justice Bryant said the legal issues surrounding surrogacy reflected the fast-evolving nature of family law, particularly concerning reproductive rights.

Contracting parents and governments were ignoring a child’s right to know its biological parents, in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Justice Bryant said the “Baby Gammy” case in Thailand last year brought surrogacy to public prominence, highlighting the lack of protection for overseas surrogate mothers, the grey areas around unwanted children and the current lack of checks on the suitability of contracting parents.

Justice Bryant’s lecture examined current laws and discuss models for legal change.

Panellists at the event were Justice Roslyn Atkinson AO; Chief Judge John Pascoe AO CVO, Federal Circuit Court of Australia; Professor Andreas Schloenhardt from the TC Beirne School of Law and Stephen Page, Partner at Harrington Family Lawyers.

The event was held at the Banco Court, Supreme Court, Brisbane, from 5.30pm on Friday 17 April.

Media: Nadine Davidson-Wall, TCB School of Law, 3346 9263, n.davidson-wall@law.uq.edu.au.

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