The bespoke ‘Parenting Pathway’ is a new legal initiative spearheaded by Damien Greer Lawyers to help couples have a family. It is a combination of the Commonwealth 1975 Family Law Act and the Queensland 2010 Surrogacy Act.

For many the journey to parenthood can be fraught with challenges. At Damien Greer Lawyers we are confident this new option will be a positive alternative and in the best interests of all involved.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Parenting Pathway and some answers we hope will address those queries.

Q. What is a Parenting Pathway?
A. The ‘Parenting Pathway’ is an agreement made in relation to children from birth, or older and is made while the child is in utero.

Q. Can anyone undertake a parenting pathway?
A. It is an alternative for couples to explore when considering starting or expanding their family. It is a legal agreement between the birth parents and a couple that encompasses the lead-up to the birth, the birth itself, the handover of the child and what would happen in the event that certain complications arose. Note: The birth father is consulted as part of the process and his consent to the agreement is usually necessary for it to meet Commonwealth legislation.

Q. What is involved in the process?
A. The process can start once a child is conceived.

Rather than State Government departments controlling this process, the child’s birth parents and the intended parents (for all legal intents and purposes) control the process. The Commonwealth judicial system then ratifies the outcome by applying the legislative pathway and precedent law formed over decades, with the child’s best interests as the paramount consideration.

Q. Why is this a better option for the child?
A. Often women with unwanted pregnancies are faced with the choice of either adoption or termination. The Parenting Pathway allows suitable families to assume the parenting role of the child rather than them being placed in an uncertain system.

At all times, the interests of the child are put first with the birth mother and intended recipients of parenting orders undergoing professional psychological assessment prior to final orders in relation to parenting responsibilities being made by the Court. With inter-country adoption processing times currently at the five-year mark, and adoption rates in Queensland continuing to fall, this new process gives people parenting responsibilities for a child from birth, which helps with the bonding process.

Q. What are the benefits for the birth mother and father?
A. While the birth parents don’t relinquish their title as ‘parents’ they have a say in who can take on the legal and parenting responsibility of their child until he/she turns 18 or otherwise ordered by the court. It gives them peace of mind they are handing over their child to one family and not to a system where their child may be subjected to multiple carers in a short period of time. They can also play a role in the lives of their child, dependent on their specific agreements with the new family.

Q. What is the difference between the Parenting Pathway and adoption and surrogacy?
A. The Parenting Pathway can only apply after a child is conceived, unlike surrogacy, which applies before conception and adoption, which applies following the birth of a child.

Damien Greer

Q. Is private adoption legal is Queensland?
A. No. The Parenting Pathway is NOT a private adoption, it is an agreement supported by parenting orders which give couples legal responsibilities for the long term care of a child until he or she turns 18 years old, just like any parent.

Q. What is the main difference between adoption and the Parenting Pathway?
A. The name of the child’s birth parents remain on the child’s birth certificate under the Parenting Pathway , and that the parenting orders only extend to the child turning 18 years old unless otherwise ordered.

Q. What role does the ‘community’ play in the process?
A. This process allows for family and the community to take responsibility for the care of a child born in less than ideal circumstances. They can suggest the ‘option’ to women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy and are concerned for the long-term welfare of their unborn child.

Q. Do the birth parents receive money as part of this process?
A. No payment is made to the parents, however as part of the agreement the families may wish to pay for the birth mother’s medical expenses.

Q. How much does a Parenting Pathway cost?
A. These are bespoke agreements and as such the cost can vary depending on the complexity of each scenario. They are usually on par with the cost of IVF treatment.

Q. Can any lawyer prepare a Parenting Pathway agreement?
A. A Specialist Accredited Family Lawyer experienced in family and surrogacy law is essential to ensure the law is adhered to and the clients’ interests are protected prior to obtaining legally binding orders.

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