Our specialist team can advise you if you are a parent, co-parent or donor, whether you are a heterosexual couple, single man or woman or a gay or lesbian couple, on the complexities of donor conception.
If you are contemplating conception with donor sperm or eggs, we can help with all the legal aspects to ensure you are legally protected. And if you’re involved in a dispute, we can advise and support you too.
Our team has also provided invaluable legal facts on UK fertility law to Co-ParentMatch.com – a social networking site for people who want to meet either a co-parent, sperm donor or sperm recipient.
If you’re donating sperm it’s essential to consider the future consequences to both you and your family in doing so and to also consider the legal and emotional consequences. It is also important to remember that it’s a criminal offence in the UK to donate sperm for commercial gain.
Unknown donor at licensed clinic
You should also be aware that if you choose to donate your sperm at a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licensed clinic , any children born as a result of your sperm will not be considered your legal children. Despite being genetically linked to the child/children, you will have no parental rights or responsibilities towards them.
However, the child conceived as a result of your sperm will have a right to access information about you.
Donations before 1 April 2005
If you became a donor before 1 April 2005 then the child is entitled to find out non-identifying information about you. This could include details such as ethnicity, hair colour and occupation.
Donations after 1 April 2005
If you became a donor after 1 April 2005 (or choose to re-register as an identifiable donor) then if the child is 18 years of age they are entitled to identifying information about you. This information includes your name and address so that the child can get in touch with you.
Since 1 October 2009
Since 1 October 2009 you too have the right to find out information about children conceived using your sperm. You can’t obtain identifying information about the children, but you can find out if any children have been conceived using your sperm, whether the children are boys or girls and the year they were born.
If you wish to donate sperm as a known donor, you can do this either at a clinic or at home. You should be aware that donating sperm as a known donor is not as simple as donating as an unknown donor. Your role as a legal father is not always excluded and will depend upon who the sperm is being donated to and where.
You will not be considered the legal father if you donate to:
- A married couple if the couple conceive either at a licensed clinic or at home by artificial means
- An unmarried couple if the couple conceive at a licensed clinic and sign the relevant HFEA parenthood forms
- A lesbian couple in a civil partnership providing conception takes place after 6 April 2009 and in either a licensed clinic or at home by artificial means
- A lesbian couple not in a civil partnership if the couple conceives after 6 April 2009, in a licensed clinic and both mothers sign the relevant HFEA parenthood forms
In all other circumstances you will be considered the legal father and will have all the rights and responsibilities associated with being a father. This means that you could be pursued for a financial contribution to your child’s upbringing.
If you want to be considered the legal father and play an active role in your child’s life, we recommend that you get legal advice on entering into a parenting agreement and read the co-parenting section of our website.
If you don’t want to be considered the legal father but the automatic position is that you would be, then you could have your legal fatherhood status extinguished if the intended parents apply to adopt the child.
Whatever your intentions, we can help you by drafting a sperm donor agreement regarding the use of your sperm and outline your fatherhood position before donating.
Sperm donor agreement
A sperm donor agreement is an agreement between the donor and the recipient outlining how the sperm is to be used. It most circumstances is designed to protect the donor from any adverse financial consequences and parental responsibilities and vests full parental decision making in the recipient. However, it is a bespoke document and can be prepared in accordance with your wishes.
Preparing a sperm donor agreement gives you the opportunity to consider all the issues that donating sperm as a known donor can create. We recommend that you consider all of the issues at the start to avoid any potential disputes later.
The following are some of the issues to consider and include in the agreement:
- Whether the donor will be reimbursed for any expenses
- Who will be named on the birth certificate
- What legal applications will be made after the birth, e.g. adoption orders
- Financial responsibility for the child
- Provision for future donations to provide for future siblings
- Whether the child should have right to contact donor
- Whether the donor has right to contact the child
- What happens to the child if the intended parents die
You can also include other specific issues in the agreement.
As sperm donor agreements are not legally binding in the UK, any dispute involving a child requires that the court consider the best interests of the child. However, if all parties take independent legal advice before entering into the sperm donor agreement the court will give a great deal of weight to the agreement.
We advise that you seek legal advice before donating sperm, especially if you’re donating as a known donor. Our specialist team are on hand to help you navigate the complexities of donor conception law.
Contact our Family Law specialists
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