Legal Facts

What if I conceive with an unknown donor through a sperm bank?

As a donor you would have no legal rights 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.

What rights do lesbian couples have if they conceive with a known donor?

The law around rights of civil partnered lesbians receiving donor sperm is complex and we strongly recommend seeking specialist advice from a law firm prior to any insemination. The law currently indicates that If the lesbian couple are civil partnered your donor or co-parent will not be the legal father regardless of whether you conceive through a fertility clinic or at home providing a legal donor contract is in place.

What rights do married heterosexual couples have if they conceive with a known donor?

If you are both legal parents your sperm donor will not be your childs legal father. There have however been some recent cases challenging this. Therefore the law in these circumstances is not concrete and is open for challenge as the natural father may apply for rights to the childs upbringing and likewise the natural father may be pursued for child maintenance.

What rights do single heterosexual women, single lesbians and un-married lesbian couples have using a known sperm donor?

If you conceive via home insemination your sperm donor will be the childs legal father. If you conceive through a licensed fertility clinic with a known sperm donor 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.

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 childs upbringing such as contact rights, religion, schooling, etc….

Using a family law expert to help you write a legal donor agreement can be a useful process as there are many areas for you and your donor to agree on and the process can help you to identify any areas where you do not agree. It is therefore essential that if you are considering a written agreement you contact a law expert before any insemination takes place.

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