Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SX - "Same-sex families in NSW disadvantaged" by Reg Domingo

Same-sex families in NSW are at a significant disadvantage compared to those in other states because without a parenting order, a co-parent has no legal rights.

Professor Jenni Millbank from the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology said that unlike Western Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory, donors and co-parents in NSW are not automatically granted co-parenting status.

The lack of such provisions means that same-sex families in NSW do not share the same legal protection as those in other states in areas such as health, finance and inheritance.

“It’s a whole range of laws both in NSW and federally,” Millbank told SX. “For example, if a co-mother died or was injured, then her children wouldn’t automatically receive inheritance from her. The child wouldn’t be entitled to work or accident compensation. Likewise if the mothers break up, the birth mother isn’t able to use the Child Support Act to seek financial support from the co-mother.”

Millbank said that, in the event of a break-up, while a co-parent could still gain rights by proving their involvement with the child, “it’s a very uneven playing field in the sense that the co-mother has a much higher threshold to meet in terms of proving that her relationship with the child is beneficial for them. Whereas for a legal parent, that would be the starting point, because of course it would be beneficial for them to spend time with her.”

Last week, the NSW Attorney-General John Hatzitergos announced that the Iemma Government will not update its legislation, despite signs that the Victorian government will seek reform. It’s a move Millbank described as “sheer gutlessness”.

“It’s an area where there’s a clear and pressing need for recognition where there’s no advantage in any respects to say that one group of children should only have one legal parent while another has two. It doesn’t do anyone any good,” Millbank said. “It’s not like we’re waiting for some results to come in. We have a clearly defined problem and a clear and obvious solution. It’s just sheer gutlessness.”

[Link: Original Article]

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