Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Same-sex parents - two dads

5-minute read

There are more same-sex couple families than ever before in Australia. More than 10,000 children live with same-sex parents in this country, and 1 in 20 male same-sex couples has children. If you are in a same-sex couple, this article will help you consider the important questions about becoming a dad.

The options for becoming a parent

Same-sex families can be created in many different ways. For example, a bisexual man may have a baby with a heterosexual woman. One or both of you may have children from a previous heterosexual relationship, or you may decide to adopt. A gay couple may have a co-parenting arrangement with a lesbian couple. Or a gay man can donate sperm to a single woman or same-sex female couple to have a baby.

These days, more same-sex male couples are creating their own families through surrogacy. There are two types. Full or gestational surrogacy is when a fertilised donor egg is implanted into a surrogate through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The surrogate has no genetic connection to the baby. For legal reasons, this is the only type of surrogacy that many clinics in Australia will be involved in. Partial or traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate’s own egg is fertilised by the man’s sperm. This can be done at home or in an overseas clinic.

The surrogate can be someone you know, who may then be involved in the child’s life, or someone else. In Australia, commercial surrogacy is against the law, although you can pay a surrogate’s medical expenses. You cannot advertise for a surrogate or pay someone to find a surrogate for you.

Some men find a surrogate overseas, but this can be quite expensive. It’s also very important to understand the laws and regulations of the overseas country before you enter into any arrangement with a surrogate.

For more information on surrogacy, visit the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website.

Deciding on roles

Same-sex male couples tend to share parenting more equally than many heterosexual couples. Because a lot of planning usually goes into having a baby with a same-sex couple, there’s time to think about what it means to be a parent, what roles you will both have and who else will be involved in bringing up the child.

Research has shown that gay couples are more likely to share domestic duties and childcare fairly than heterosexual couples. Gay dads may be more involved in their children’s lives than heterosexual dads. Being a father can also raise your self-esteem and give you a sense of fulfilment.

There are different ways to involve the biological mother or other women in family life. For example, you may introduce the children to mothers, sisters or friends as female role models.

Social and psychological issues

Research has shown that children who grow up in same-sex families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as any other children.

But even though there is more support than ever for same-sex families in Australia, some same-sex couples and their children are worried about being teased or bullied. It’s the stigma of others rather than growing up with two dads that can affect children’s wellbeing.

Surrounding your family with plenty of supportive friends, families and same-sex organisations and communities can help your family navigate discrimination.

Children usually find their own way of explaining their family set-up to other people. If you think your child is being bullied, it’s important to step in quickly. Schools and teachers are trained to deal with issues like this.

Work and legal issues

It’s important to obtain legal advice before you enter into any surrogacy arrangement.

Altruistic surrogacy (when the surrogate mother does not receive any financial compensation) is legal in Australia. However, the law does not obligate a birth mother to surrender the child. Sometimes a court may transfer legal parental rights to the commissioning parents.

The way in which Australian law applies to children born to surrogates overseas is sometimes confusing and there have even been cases where children have been left without legally-defined parents. Sometimes, commissioning parents will need to apply to the Family Court for parenting orders.

If you donated sperm to a woman, you have no legal rights or responsibilities concerning the child. The woman who gives birth to the child and her partner have full parental rights. When they turn 18, children conceived from a sperm donor have the right to information that identifies you.

Same-sex parents and their families have the same entitlements as everyone else when it comes to parental leave, tax, superannuation, social security and family assistance, child support and family law. They also have identical entitlements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net and the Medicare Safety Net, immigration and citizenship.

If you are a same-sex parent, it’s important to let Centrelink know. You will be assessed for entitlements in the same way as everyone else. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for child support or Dad and partner pay. Visit the Department of Social Services for more information.

More information and support

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019


Back To Top

Need more information?

Same-sex families: services & resources | Raising Children Network

Like all families, rainbow and same-sex families need support. Get links to services for rainbow and same-sex parents, their children and their communities.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Same-sex parents - two mums

More than 10,000 Australian children live with same-sex parents. This article will help you consider the main questions about becoming a mum in a same-sex relationship.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Same-sex parenting: a family story | Raising Children Network

‘What makes us special isn’t our family structure, but just us’. Two mums talk about family life and the joys and challenges of being same-sex parents.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Rainbow families & same-sex families | Raising Children Network

Children from same-sex and rainbow families do just as well as children from other families. Nurturing, responsive parenting is what matters to kids.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Supporting same-sex families: communities | Raising Children Network

When families feel supported and like they belong, children do well. You can support rainbow families and their children by being inclusive and respectful.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Family and siblings

Children grow up in different structures such as nuclear families, blended families, rainbow families (same sex parents) and single parents.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Donor breast milk and milk banks

If it's not possible to breastfeed a baby because they're premature, sick or born via surrogacy or to same-sex parents, human donor milk is a great alternative.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Rainbow families

The term ‘rainbow family’ refers to a family with parents of the same sex bringing up a child. Find out more how to overcome some of the challenges and tips for going forward.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Playgroups & how to find a playgroup | Raising Children Network

Playgroups are great for your child’s learning and development, and they can be good for you too. Here’s how to find a local playgroup that suits your needs.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.