For couples struggling to conceive or single women looking for a way to start a family, sperm donation is often a valuable option. But what are the legal implications of using donor sperm to have a baby?
We take a closer look at what the law says about sperm donation.
Where did the sperm donation take place?
When sperm is needed to conceive a child, some people turn to friends for help.
If the conception of the child takes place at home, the method of conception is extremely important.
If the prospective parents of the child are married, how the baby is conceived will help to determine the second legal parent of the child (the woman who gave birth will be the child’s first legal parent).
If artificial insemination is used (rather than intercourse), the sperm donor will not be the second legal parent.
If the woman wanting a child is single and conception takes place at home, the sperm donor will be the child’s second legal parent, even if they are not mentioned on the birth certificate of the child.
Why does it matter?
If the sperm donor is seen as the legal parent of the child, he could be required to support the child financially. He could also potentially apply to the court, without the court’s permission, for a child arrangements order.
It is crucial that each person fully understands what their responsibilities will be before any sperm donation takes place.
What about sperm donation in a licensed clinic?
This is a completely different scenario to what we have discussed above. Unless all parties agree otherwise, the sperm donor who donates their sperm in a licensed clinic would not be a legal parent.
Donating via a licensed clinic may be more costly but it does provide much more certainty than the ‘at-home’ method.
What do I need to know if I am considering sperm donation in order to have a baby?
It is vital to seek legal advice so that you fully understand the legal implications. You can have a donor agreement drawn up by a family solicitor. This will detail the obligations and rights of all those involved. While this is not a legally binding document, it can help to show what the intentions of each party were before the sperm donation took place. Having a statement signed by all parties detailing the method of conception may also be useful, particularly when the couple are married and the conception takes place at home.
Whatever your situation, having a clear, specific agreement in place from the start can help to avoid disagreements and arguments later and provide peace of mind in the meantime.