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  • Nanki Kiegaldie

IVF Participation in Property Settlements

In property settlements, courts take into account a party's participation in IVF treatment, especially in short to medium-term relationships, even if the treatment is unsuccessful. When dividing assets and liabilities, the court evaluates each party's contributions, including to family welfare, homemaking, and parenting.


Choosing to undergo In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a significant mutual commitment. While emotionally taxing for both partners, the physical burden often falls more heavily on women.

The primary cases in which the court has recently examined IVF in property settlements are Nunn & Mayfield [2019] FCCA 542 and Lillis & Lillis [2019] FamCA 347.


Nunn & Mayfield [2019] FCCA 542

In this case, the court explored the impact of IVF participation on contributions. The couple, married for seven years and cohabitating for eight, saw the wife undergo four IVF cycles over two years, ceasing her employment for the treatments, which were unsuccessful. The court recognised her significant contribution to the family’s welfare, acknowledging the emotional and physical toll of the IVF process as part of their joint life plans. Despite the husband’s argument that her efforts did not facilitate his income-earning ability, the court affirmed that her sacrifices benefited the family and were part of their joint effort to have children.


Lillis & Lillis [2019] FamCA 347

Here, the couple cohabitated for nine years, with the wife enduring several IVF cycles and miscarriages, and exploring surrogacy. She described the IVF process as emotionally and physically draining, seeking recognition for her efforts. The husband argued against altering property interests, labeling their relationship as a short marriage. The court disagreed, emphasizing the significant contributions each made over the years, particularly their joint effort to have children. The wife's considerable efforts in addressing infertility were acknowledged as substantial contributions to the relationship.


These cases provide how courts view IVF participation in property settlements. The emotional and physical efforts involved are considered significant contributions to the family's welfare, reflecting the shared endeavors of both partners, regardless of whether the IVF treatment was successful.

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