top of page


Adoption                                                         The permanent legal transfer of all parental rights from one parent/s to the new parent/s.

Artificial Insemination                                     When sperm is inseminated into the uterus.


Assisted Reproductive Technology                When a person uses medical treatment to assist with fertility.



Apprehended Domestic Violence Order         An order made by the local court for a person’s protection that restricts another person’s                                                                                       behaviour that you may be in a relationship with, live with, or are related to; this is a person with                                                                           whom you have a “domestic relationship”.


Apprehended Personal Violence Order         An order where the people involved are not related nor do they have a domestic or

                                                                       intimate relationship, such as neighbours, where a person is being stalked, intimidated,                                                                                         harassed, or threatened by someone.

Binding Financial Agreement                         An agreement made before, during, or after a relationship ends which specifies how your

                                                                       assets, financial resources, and liabilities will be split if your relationship breaks down.

Binding Death Benefit Nomination                 A form that directs the Trustee of a superannuation fund to pay your superannuation                                                                                              (including insurance amounts) to the person/s you nominate in that form.

Birth Certificate                                              An official copy of the birth registration of a child. It is often used to help establish a

                                                                      person's identity, such as name, sex, age, parents, and place of birth.

Birth mother                                                   A woman who gives birth to a child (even if she is not the genetic parent of the child (i.e. if

                                                                      donor eggs are used).

Biological father                                            The man who has provided the sperm to fertilise the woman’s egg.

Biological mother                                           A woman who conceives a child and gives birth to that child, a birth mother.

Blastocysts                                                    A “ball” consisting of a few dozen cells that forms about five days after fertilisation, when

                                                                      a fluid-filled cavity opens up in the morula. The use of blastocysts in in-vitro fertilisation

                                                                     (IVF) involves culturing a fertilised egg for five days before implanting it into the uterus.

Child Support                                                An ongoing, periodic or non-periodic payment made by a parent to another parent for the

                                                                     financial benefit of a child following the end of a relationship.

Child Support Agency                                   A government agency that operates through the Department of Human Services that

                                                                     deals with child support payments and issues.

Cisgender                                                     A person who identifies as the gender that matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. 

Civil union                                                     A legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage often used by same-sex couples to

                                                                     have their relationship publicly and legally recognised.

Consent Orders                                            Orders that are agreed upon between the parties and filed with the Family Court that

                                                                     specify how property is to be divided or the parenting arrangements for a child of the                                                                                             relationship.

Co-mother                                                    The female partner of the birth mother.

Co-parenting                                                Where separated or divorced parents take care of their children and seek to maintain                                                                                             equal or equivalent responsibility for the children's upbringing.

De facto partner                                            A person with whom you are in a relationship with, live together as a couple, are not                                                                                              married, not siblings or a parent of child of each other, have financial interdependence, a sexual                                                                            relationship and a public aspect to the relationship.

District Court                                                 A state court which deals with all criminal offences except murder, treason and piracy                                                                                           and can hear civil claims up to $750,000 and applications under the De Facto                                                                                                         Relationships Act 1984 (NSW), the Family Provisions Act 1982 (NSW) and the Testator                                                                                         Family Maintenance and Guardianship of Infants Act 1916 (NSW) that involve amounts, or                                                                                     property to the value of, no more than A$250,000.

Domestic Partnership Agreement                A written agreement documenting your living arrangements so your relationship is                                                                                                 recognised by the state as domestic partners.

Donor Agreement                                         An agreement (not legally binding) between one or two mothers and a known sperm                                                                                             donor that outlines all aspects of the relationship including how future contact with the                                                                                           child will be handled.

Donor Dad                                                    A man who has provided the sperm for the conception of a child through assisted                                                                                                   reproduction (i.e. through home insemination or through a fertility clinic) and is involved                                                                                         in the child’s life.

Donor (Known)                                             A man who provides sperm who is known to the birth mother and/or non-birth mother.

Donor (Unknown)                                        Sperm obtained anonymously from an unknown man through a fertility clinic.

Enduring Guardian                                       A person you appoint to make health, lifestyle and medical decisions for you when you are                                                                                     no longer capable of doing this for yourself.

Embryo                                                        An egg fertilised by sperm between the first and the eighth week of development after                                                                                             fertilisation.

Family Court                                                A federal court which hears more complex disputes relating to the breakdown of                                                                                                    marriages, de-facto relationships and children under the Family Law Act 1975.

Family Report                                              Report written by a family consultant, or outside appointed expert, which provides an                                                                                            independent assessment of the issues in a family court matter.

Federal Circuit Court                                   A federal court that hears disputes relating to the breakdown of marriages, de-facto                                                                                                relationships and children under the Family Law Act 1975.

Fertility Clinic                                               A medical clinic that assists couples and individuals who want to become parents but for                                                                                        medical or social reasons have been or are unable to achieve this goal via heterosexual                                                                                        intercourse.

Foster Parent                                              A person who acts as parent and guardian for a child in place of the child's natural                                                                                                 parents and makes day-to-day decision about the care of the child but without legally                                                                                             adopting the child.

Genetic parent                                           The man and woman who provided the genetic material to conceive a child.

Home Insemination                                    The method of inseminating sperm into the uterus (at home) using a specimen cup and                                                                                         syringe, usually performed by the de factor partner of the woman trying to conceive the                                                                                         child.

Incapacity                                                   When you have a physical or mental inability to do something or are unable to manage                                                                                         your own affairs.

Intersex                                                       A person born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are not complelty female nor                                                                                 completely male, or are a combination of both male and female, or neither female nor male.

Intestacy                                                    When you die without leaving a valid will.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)                           When an egg is fertilised by sperm outside of the body.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)                    A procedure done in a fertility clinic that places sperm directly into a woman's uterus to                                                                                         assist in conception.

Lives with                                                   The term used in the Family Court, and Family Court Orders that refers to the parent or person with                                                                       whom the child lives. 

Local Court                                                 The lowest state court that hears minor civil and criminal cases before a magistrate (no                                                                                          jury) and can hear civil matters with a value up to $100,000, and the maximum sentence is                                                                                    two years’ jail per sentence.

LGBTQIA                                                    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual.

Marriage                                                     The union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

Mediation                                                    When a third party tries to help others who are having a disagreement to resolve a                                                                                                 dispute, often prior to commencing legal proceedings.

Non-birth mother                                        The partner of the birth mother, the other mother of a child.

Non-genetic parent                                     A parent who has not provided genetic material to conceive the child.

Parental responsibility                                The responsibility and power to make decisions about the care and welfare of a child,                                                                                           including important decision making power with respect to education, religion, and                                                                                                 medical treatment.

Parenting Agreement                                 An agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for children that are agreed to by the                                                                                       parents (that is not legally binding).

Parenting Plan                                           A plan that sets out parenting arrangements for children that are agreed to by the parents                                                                                      (that is not legally binding).

Parental Responsibility                              A term used by the Family Court that refers to the legal authority and duty parents and carers have in                                                               relation to children. Most often, both parents have equal/joint parental responsibility and allows                                                                              parents to make joint decisions in respect of a child's health, religion, education and living                                                                                      arrangements. Sometimes a parent can have sole parental responsibility, meaning they can make                                                                        major decisions without consulting the other parent.

Parenting Orders                                      Orders that are approved by the Family Court, either by consent between the parents or by                                                                                    a judge after a hearing, which details parenting arrangements for children, including who has                                                                                parental responsibility, with whom the child lives, and communication and time with the other parent.

Power of Attorney                                     A document that a person signs which gives the authority to act for that person to another                                                                                     person in specified or all legal or financial matters.

Protected Person                                     The person protected by an AVO or APVO.

Sperm Donor                                            A man who has provided the sperm for the conception of a child through assisted                                                                                                   reproduction (i.e. through home insemination or through a fertility clinic).

Step-parent                                               A person who is the partner of the existing legal parent who takes on a parenting role.

Superannuation                                        Regular payments made into a fund by an employee towards a future pension for your                                                                                           retirement.

Supreme Court                                         The highest state court which has unlimited jurisdiction to hear large civil and the most                                                                                            serious criminal matters and matters on appeal from the District Court.

Surrogacy                                                 The carrying of a pregnancy for other intended parents.

Transgender                                              A peson who does not identify as the gender that matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. 

Will                                                            A legal document by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage                                                                                      their estate and provides for the distribution of their property upon their death.

Note to readers: This information is intended as a guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained here is as up to date and accurate as possible, the law is complex and constantly changing (particularly relating to same-sex parenting) and readers are advised to seek legal advice in relation to their situation.

If you need legal advice, please contact Nicole Evans from Nicole Evans Lawyers at

bottom of page