Legal Facts for Sperm Donors

Legal Facts for Sperm Donors

As a sperm donor you can choose to conceive either through a licensed fertility clinic, by home insemination or natural insemination. The laws around parental rights and responsibilities are very different depending on which of these options you choose so make sure you consider your options carefully.

3 Simple Legal Facts if you are Thinking about Becoming a Sperm Donor:

  • If you donate your sperm through a fertility clinic you will not be classed as the child’s legal father and will not have parental responsibility.
  • If you donate to a single woman via home insemination you are very likely to have legal parental responsibility to the child. The woman who is carrying the baby can choose either the sperm donor or the partner to be named on the birth certificate.
  • If you donate to a married couple (lesbian or heterosexual) via home insemination there is a chance that you could have legal parental responsibility to the child. However in most cases if the woman who is giving birth is married the couple are automatically protected and the partner will be legally classed as a parent.

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What rights does a sperm donor have if he helps a lesbian couple conceive?

The law currently indicates that if the lesbian couple are married the donor or co-parent will not be the legal father if you conceive through a licensed fertility clinic. If you are not married you can choose to have your partners name on the birth certificate and your partner will be seen as the child’s second parent and the donor will not be the child’s legal father.

If you conceive at home and are married, in most cases providing a legal donor contract is in place, the donor would not be considered the legal father and both partners can be named on the birth certificate as Mother and Parent. This would then mean the known donor would not legally be seen as the Father. The law around rights of civil partnered lesbians receiving donor sperm is complex and it is strongly recommended to seek specialist advice from a law firm prior to any insemination.

What rights does a sperm donor have when donating to single heterosexual women and single lesbians?

If you conceive via home insemination the sperm donor will be the child’s legal father. If you conceive through a licensed fertility clinic there is a possibility that the donor will be considered as the legal father however this is an emerging area and the decisions will be based on individual circumstance.

If the father is not named on the birth certificate he will have no parental or financial responsibility to the child. If you are not married you can choose to have your partners name on the birth certificate and your partner will be seen as the child’s second parent and your donor will not be your child’s legal Father.

If you conceive at home and are married, in most cases providing a legal donor contract is in place, the donor would not be considered the legal father and both partners can be named on the birth certificate as Mother and Parent. This would then mean the known donor would not legally be seen as the Father.

What rights do I have if I donate to married heterosexual couples?

It may be that the husband in a married heterosexual relationship is having fertility difficulties and the couple choose to use a known sperm donor to conceive. In the UK there have recently been some cases challenging married couples who conceive with a known sperm donor and the donor’s right as the child’s legal father.

This is currently a very grey area of the law and therefore the law in these circumstances is not concrete and is open for challenge as the natural father may apply for rights to the child’s upbringing and likewise the natural father may be pursued for child maintenance. In most cases, if you conceive at home and are married both the husband and wife can be named on the birth certificate as Mother and Father.

How useful is a legal sperm donor agreement?

A written donor agreement is useful if a dispute arises however it may not be considered powerful enough in a court of law to resolve parental responsibility. The legal effect of your agreement will depend on your individual circumstances and the content of your agreement.

You should try to clearly set out your agreements with regards to all aspects of the involvement such as a co-parenting arrangement and state any decision making processes to do with the child’s upbringing such as contact rights, religion, schooling, country of residence etc....

Naming a sperm donor on the birth certificate

If you and your recipient agree to have the donor’s name on the child’s birth certificate it will give the donor parental responsibility. Parental responsibility will include financial responsibility and also could include the child’s right of inheritance from the donor in the event of death.

Fertility clinics for sperm donation

There is a thorough screening and testing process by medical professionals on donor sperm which includes a six month quarantine period for the sperm before it can be released for fertility treatment.

Choosing to help women conceive through a clinic means the donor will have no legal rights or responsibilities as a parent. Any fertility treatment you have and any resulting children born from that treatment will be kept on the governing body register.

As a donor you will be anonymous until your child reaches 18 years of age he or she will have rights to access the information on the donor register and can gain information such as the name and address of the donor. The governing body will determine the maximum amount of donations a sperm donor will be able to provide for donor conception.

Sperm donor children

After someone has decided to go ahead, and have a child via sperm donation it is important to consider what kind of life that child will have, throughout the early years, growing up, or into adulthood, knowing that one, if not both of their parents, are not their biological family.

That is why you find more and more sperm donor children seeking their one, or both parents that they have not got to know the identity of in their younger life.

Sperm donor children and adoptees often will go through a point in their life where they will ask questions without the intention of hurting those loved ones that did raise them. So what do you do when your child, a product of a sperm donor comes to you, looking for answers in biology regarding their own biology?

Children of adoption can relate to a portion of this, growing up knowing they are adopted, and that they have other ‘parents’ out there that gave birth to them, and that their mom and dad, whom were there with day and night wanted a baby, and were blessed with a child.

Recommendations are that you are open and honest with your child when you feel they are ready to handle that emotional responsibility. They will take it, breathe it in, mull it over, and go on; especially if this is introduced into their minds at a young age. The longer you wait the more deceit you are looking at unraveling later in their lives.

Why not contact us with your real life stories on telling your children about their sperm donor father.

Sperm donor children do have support groups out there for those who know they are from a biological one parent status. If your child is old enough to understand the ramifications of this kind of life, than a support group may be beneficial. If the sperm donation was anonymous, give that information to your child, this way they know, you have not willingly or knowingly held this information back. If you have yet to go through the process of using a sperm donor, take this into consideration, and maybe this can help you decide if anonymous is the way to go.

What if I donate through a licensed clinic?

The donor would have no legal rights or responsibilities as a parent. However when any resulting child born through sperm donation at a clinic reaches 18 years of age, he or she will have the legal right to gain information on their donor and indeed any other children born as a result of that donor.

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