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Here's why your sperm donors parents are important

Here's why your sperm donors parents are important

The parents of a sperm donor have this week won a landmark case to have access to their biological 4 year old grandson. The judge in this case ruled that the child would benefit from a continuing relationship with his grandparents.

Sperm donor law book and hammer

Grandparents of a sperm donor have a legal right

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the parents of a sperm donor can have the legal right to have access with their grandson.

The little boy was born to a lesbian couple who had asked their friend to donate sperm. However, after the couple split up the fathers contact got less and less until he was cut off completely.

The lesbian couple civil partnered in 2010 and began the process of home insemination. One of the women became pregnant and went on to have a baby. In the beginning the sperm donor had visitation to the child although nothing was ever formally agreed.

What the sperm donor said

The sperm donors account in court was that he was known to the child as his father and would see him regularly however the women's understanding was that he would see the child just as often as seeing friends children. The donor saw the child almost weekly for 3 years and he would attend family parties within that time.

Man on beach holding child

However, as the women's relationship became strained they began to impose boundaries on the mans access to the child. The couple separated in 2013 and by the end of 2015 the sperm donor had not seen the child in 18 months.

In 2017 the donor applied for a court order to allow him to see the child to which the judge said he could see the boy seven times a year for two hours at a time in the presence of the women. The judge also added that the donors parents be able to the see the child on two occasions per year and send birthday and Christmas cards.

The Verdict

The judge Lord Justice Peter Jackson said:

'Whatever the state of the relationship between the adults, they once cooperated to create a much-loved child.

'They now owe it to him to try to recapture something of that spirit'.

What does this case mean for lesbian couples and sperm donors today?

It is a situation we are very familiar with here at Co-ParentMatch.com whereby lesbian couples search for a sperm donor and the sperm donor agrees to help them become pregnant.

Here is what sperm donors and lesbians need to consider:

What method of insemination will you choose?

The method of insemination you choose will affect your sperm donors legal position.

Artificial Insemination at a clinic

The birth mother who is carrying the child is always the legal mother.

As a lesbian couple, providing that you are treated together and you both consent to the treatment, then the non-birth mother will be considered the second legal parent. The sperm donor, be it a known donor or unknown, has no legal status in relation to the child. He is not legally or financially responsible for the child.

The birth mother automatically acquires parental responsibility for the child at birth. The non-birth mother acquires parental responsibility for the child by virtue of being in a civil partnership with the birth mother.

If you do not want your sperm donor to have any legal rights to the child then you should choose artificial insemination at a clinic.

home insemination specimen cup

Home Insemination

The birth mother who is carrying the child is the legal mother of the child.

In a civil partnership or marriage the non-birth mother will automatically be the second legal parent of the child providing the insemination is artificial. The sperm donor will not have any legal rights to the child and he will not be financially responsible for any child conceived.

That said, it is in the nature of home insemination that the sperm donor is known to you. It is therefore important to regulate and agree the role, if any, the donor is to have in the child’s life. It is advisable that you put in place a “Sperm Donor Agreement” or a “Co-Parenting Agreement”.

As we have seen from previous legal cases the law is still a very grey area with regards to sperm donors rights. This latest case also highlights the grandparents legal rights. It is therefore may be worth highlighting grandparents access and visitation to the child in your sperm donor agreement.

Will you complete a co-parenting agreement?

A simply written document provides clarity and evidence for all parties involved. The detail in a known sperm donor agreement can range from a simple statement about future parenting to a detailed account of child access and contact to schooling and special occasions. The spectrum you wish to cover is up to you and should be personal to you. A written agreement will set strong foundations for your parenting life. 

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