The High Court of Australia has begun hearing arguments over whether a sperm donor can have custody over the child he helped create.
Robert Masson, as he is known to the court, has taken a lesbian couple to the country’s High Court, claiming he is legally the father to their young daughter, according to the Australian Associated Press.
He claims one of the females, a friend of over 25 years, approached him in 2006 about donating sperm on the understanding that he would play an important role emotionally and financially in the child’s life.
Masson is listed as the father on the girl’s birth certificate, according to the Australian, and his legal team has argued the significant presence in the daughter’s life and that he is referred to as “Daddy” by both his biological daughter as well as the couple’s other child.
When the couple attempted to leave the country with Masson’s daughter, he decided to take legal action to keep her in Australia.
The case has become a constitutional issue after both parties argued a discrepancy between the state and Commonwealth laws. State law argues that a sperm donor is not a parent, while Commonwealth law states that the biological parent is responsible for the child.
The result will become a landmark decision in the argument over what the legal requirements are to be a parent.
A judge presiding over the case asked Tuesday: “Is there not a difference between the university student who is a donor to a sperm bank for a few bob and the sperm donor who plays a role in the life of the child?”
The case was originally argued in Family court where the women were barred from crossing the border with Masson’s biological child. The ruling judge found that the father must be consulted on long-term decisions affecting the child.
“Being a biological parent is not the whole answer to the question ‘who is a parent?’,” ruling Justice Margaret Cleary said in an official statement.
According to the Court’s calendar, they will continue hearing arguments this week.