Using a known sperm donor – your legal rights

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Creating a family via sperm donation is becoming an increasingly popular way for individuals and couples to start their journey into parenthood. The law in this area is not straightforward. It is important to flag from the outset that if you are considering using a sperm donor it will be vital that you obtain legal advice which is tailored to your specific circumstances.

Who is automatically a legal parent and what is parental responsibility?

There are various ways a sperm donor can be used, and each method has varying legal implications. The child’s birth mother will always be a legal parent with parental responsibility. In brief, anyone with parental responsibility for a child will need to be involved in important decisions regarding the child’s life until they reach 18 years old. This can include (but is not limited to), decisions about where the child should live, schooling, health and any property held by them during their minority.

It is crucial to be aware that if a child is conceived via sexual intercourse (or ‘natural insemination’) the biological father will always be considered the child’s legal father, regardless of whether they are recorded as the father on the birth certificate and irrespective of any agreement reached between the parents. In such circumstances, if the mother has a partner they cannot be the child’s legal parent even if they are the mother’s spouse or civil partner.

A legal father will be financially responsible for a child, meaning they can be pursued for child maintenance even when they have no involvement with the child. If a legal father is named on the child’s birth certificate, he will also acquire parental responsibility, giving him additional rights regarding decision-making for the child and a right to make applications to the Court in the event of a dispute.

In contrast, sperm donors giving samples via a licenced fertility clinic will not be legal fathers and are given protected legal status so that they cannot be held legally or financially responsible for a child conceived by their donation. A sperm donor who is not the legal father will require permission from the Court to pursue an application regarding the arrangements for a child.

This blog relates to the legal position on sperm donation in England & Wales. The law on sperm donation varies worldwide and the governing law will usually be in the country in which the child will be born.

Sperm donation via a licenced fertility clinic

Unknown donor

Using an unknown donor via a licenced clinic is a popular option. There are strict rules and regulations regarding donors in respect of their health, medical history and age. Sperm donations will be screened for several conditions, including sexually transmitted diseases.

A sperm donor can request confirmation of the number of children born (including their gender and year of birth) as a result of their donation, but the identity of any child conceived or their mother will remain anonymous. Until the child reaches 18 years of age, the sperm donor is also anonymous but thereafter the child can request identifying information about the donor and any donor-conceived genetic siblings (via mutual consent).

An unknown donor will not be the legal father of any child conceived by their donation. The mother can choose to enter into an agreement for her partner to be a legal parent, regardless of whether they are married or in a civil partnership.

Known donor

Another option is to use a known sperm donor via a licensed clinic, for example, a friend or non-blood relation. Finding a ‘known unknown’ donor, i.e. recruiting a donor online, comes with risks and is discouraged.

Most licensed clinics will require known donors to pass the same medical screening as an unknown donor, but the requirements regarding the donor’s age and sperm quality are generally less stringent.

Legal parenthood can become complicated when using a known donor. A known donor will not be the legal father if he donates to a couple who are both legal parents (i.e. if the couple are married or in a civil partnership, they will each become legal parents when the child is born). In circumstances where there is no other legal parent, for example, the donation is to a single mother or the mother is unmarried or not in a civil partnership, it is possible that the donor may become a legal father.

It is therefore vital to obtain legal advice when using a known donor via a licensed clinic ensuring the clinic’s paperwork is correctly completed and to consider entering into a donor agreement. Whilst donor agreements are not legally binding, they record the intentions of all those involved regarding the donor’s role and this can be useful evidence in the event of any difficulties or disputes. There have unfortunately been cases where the paperwork at the clinic have been completed incorrectly and legal parenthood not being given in line with the intentions of those involved. In such circumstances, further legal advice will be necessary.

The requirements for a known sperm donor via a licensed clinic to be anonymous are also applicable in this circumstance, however, they can be complicated by the personal relationships of those involved.

‘DIY’ conception at home

Known donor

Using a known donor by artificial insemination at home does not provide the same level of medical screening as a licensed clinic. In this circumstance, a donor should be asked to provide detail of his medical history and undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The recent case of MacDougall v SW & Ors (sperm donor: parental responsibility or contact) [2022], highlights the risks of using donors found online. In this case, the sperm donor was aware he had a genetic and inheritable condition, Fragile X syndrome (which causes a range of developmental problems including learning difficulties and cognitive impairment), which prevented him from being a sperm donor via a licensed clinic due to medical screening regulations. Within the Court’s judgment, the sperm donor was found to have failed to take responsibility for his medical condition, and to the long-term impact this potentially had on any children conceived by his donation. It is important to be aware of the potential risks involved when using a known donor outside of a licensed clinic.

Sperm donors who donate outside of a licensed clinic do not acquire the same statutory protection from financial responsibility towards any child conceived as a result of their donation. The mother and donor can decide between themselves whether the donor is to be considered a legal parent. They can choose to put the donor’s name on the birth certificate and doing so will make him a legal parent with parental responsibility, although this is not often the intention when using a donor and so they are often not named.

If the donor’s name is not on the child’s birth certificate, the donor does not become a legal parent and will not have parental responsibility. If you have a spouse or civil partner, they can be the legal parent and they should be named on the child’s birth certificate to give them parental responsibility. If you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, your partner cannot be the child’s legal parent and will not be named on the birth certificate. In these circumstances your partner would need to adopt the child to become a legal parent, although they may be able to acquire parental responsibility.

Unknown donor

It is unlawful to use an unknown sperm donor outside of a licensed clinic. For this reason, a licensed clinic will often not allow for sperm samples to be taken home for insemination.

My known donor is not my child’s legal parent and does not have parental responsibility? Does he have any rights?

The short answer is no, the donor has no rights or responsibilities towards the child in this situation.

However, the donor could make an application to Court for permission to make an application for a child arrangements order under the Children Act 1989.

A child arrangements order is an order specifying who a child should live with and/or how their time will be spent with each parent. When deciding whether to grant permission to make the application, the court will have particular regard to the following (section 10(9) The Children Act 1989): –

  1. the nature of the proposed application for the section 8 order;
  2. the applicant’s connection with the child;
  3. any risk there might be of that proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that he would be harmed by it.

The role that the donor has played in the child’s life up to this point is likely to be a determining factor. If an applicant is granted leave to proceed with an application for a child arrangements order it does not necessarily mean that they will be successful. The chances of success in an application for a child arrangements order are highly fact specific and outside the remit of this blog, however, the child’s welfare will be the Court’s paramount consideration and the donor’s motivations for seeking parental responsibility will be a significant factor.

It would be an unusual set of facts where an application for a child arrangements order by a donor would succeed, but if you are concerned there are steps you can take to protect yourself against this type of application. For example:-

  • Make sure that you and your donor are clear at the outset about the role that he will play in the child’s life.
  • Discuss what information will be shared with the child and the type of relationship you envisage the donor having with the child.
  • Will the donor spend time with the child regularly, with or without you, and will the donor’s family know the child?

The more detailed your discussions, the better. Often a donor is a friend or (non-blood) relation, so this is a sensible thing to do in any case to preserve your existing relationship with them.

The decisions and steps made when using a sperm donor will have lifelong implications for both you and any child conceived. It is important to ensure your discussions with a potential known donor are open and honest from the outset and to be aware of any potential issues or misaligned intentions prior to conception. This will enable you to make informed decisions and consider alternative options before moving forward.

If you are considering using a known sperm donor either via a licensed clinic or at home via artificial insemination, it is vital to consider obtaining legal advice specific to your circumstances and to consider entering into a donor agreement recording the intentions of all concerned. If it is intended that the donor will have a role in the child’s life after birth, this can also be recorded in a parenting agreement/plan. Donor agreements and parenting agreements/plans are not legally binding, but will go a long way in ensuring positions are aligned prior to conception and if correctly drawn up will add a layer of protection in the event of any later dispute.

Charlotte Plowman is a Senior Associate Solicitor in Horsham and one of our dedicated team of specialists who are experienced in advising on modern family structures and the issues that can arise on creating them. Further details regarding our creating families team can be found here. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team for a confidential, no-obligation conversation.

73 responses on “Using a known sperm donor – your legal rights

  1. I had a contract written up with my friend so he would be a donor but we did it through intercourse, does that nullify the agreement? ‘It is important to note that if a child is conceived via intercourse the biological father will always be considered the legal parent, regardless of whether or not they are named on the birth certificate.’

    Our agreement states he will never be referred to as dad or father and I cannot demand anything from his as he has no paternal rights, visa versa.

    1. Thank you for your comment Olivia. If your child was conceived through intercourse then the father will be the child’s legal parent, rather than a sperm donor, in law. The agreement you entered into may still have evidential weight if there was a dispute between you in relation to arrangements for the child at a later date, but this would depend on your particular circumstances (including the circumstances in which the agreement was entered into). If I can assist you further please do not hesitate to contact me.

  2. My partner and i will be using her long time friend from Australia to be the sperm donor (i will be carrying the child). Will the agreement still be used even though they are from a different country?

    1. Thanks for your comment Kayleigh. The law around sperm donation and donor agreements will vary country to country. You will usually be governed by the law in the country in which the child will be born. You should seek specialist legal advice about your specific situation before moving forward with the proposed arrangement. If the child will be born in the UK then I will be able to assist you.

  3. My friend is will to be a suragote for me with a sperm donor dad am I able to adopt the baby with the dad being a donor

    1. If you are considering having a child via surrogacy I strongly recommend that you ensure that the arrangements you put in place meet the conditions to apply for a parental order. A parental order recognises the intended parents as the child’s parents (you should be aware that when a child is born via surrogacy the birth mother and her husband, if she has one, are recognised as the legal parents after birth). Adoption may be another way to secure recognition as your child’s parents but this is not straight forward and you should ensure that you fully understand the process and consequences of adoption before proceeding. It is very important that you take specialist legal advice before moving forward with your plans. Please contact me if I can assist you further.

  4. I am planning to use a sperm donor, though through intercourse. I will not have his correct details. Would I leave the fathers name blank or can ?donor? or an alteranative be put on there?

    1. Thank you for your comment Rachael. If you conceive a child as a result of intercourse the father will always be considered a legal parent rather than a donor. I strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice before proceedings any further with your arrangement. If I can assist you please do contact me.

  5. Hi I?m going to be a sperm donor for a friend using AI donation, we have an sperm donor agreement, form the internet will I ever in the future be made to pay toward the child, or put in the birth cirtificate?

    We live in Scotland

    1. Thanks for your comment Scott. Whether you will be considered in law to be a sperm donor or legal parent (with obligations and responsibilities) will depend on a number of factors and I recommend that you seek specialist legal advice from a lawyer in your area before proceeding any further with the arrangement. You should be aware that sperm donor agreements are not legally binding and those prepared without legal advice may not be given much weight by the court if there were a disagreement in the future.

  6. Hi, we are using a sperm donor for home Ai. He has provided a donor agreement which he has lodged with his lawyer. He has suggested that after each attempt at conception he would need to relodge an amended agreement with the change of date – therefore incurring further costs. Could you let me know if this is necessary and considered normal practice? Many thanks

    1. Hi Al, thanks for your comment. This sounds like an unusual scenario but I would need to see the proposed documentation before advising you. It is important that you take legal advice on the agreement before proceedings with the AI. The agreements are not binding in England and Wales, but if both parties have legal advice they would hold greater weight. It also ensures that both parties fully understand what they are entering into so arrangements where full advice has been taken are more likely to work out. Please do contact me if I can assist you further.

  7. I have a sperm donor from UK who agrees to come to Asia to donate via intercourse at his own expense. We have a contract waiving his legal parental rights and responsibility and so on. The donation and possible birth place of my child is not my home country but still in Asia. Which country’s law will be applied if ever he tries to claim his rights?

    1. Thank you for your comment Eliza. I am only able to advise on the law in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. It seems from your comment you live in Asia and both conception and birth would be in Asia, so I do not believe that you or your child would be in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. You should seek advice in your home country and the country of the child’s birth.

  8. Mine and my husbands friend wanted to have a baby and we decided that he would be a donor for her to get pregnant we made it clear he would not be known as the father, when her daughter was born she then decided that she wanted him to be the father and got his parents involved who now have a connection with her, dose my husband have to pay cms, he also has not signed he birth certificate.
    Any advice will help

    1. Thank you for your comment. The law in this area is very complex and the answer to your question can?t be answered without much more information. I encourage you to contact the office and make an initial appointment so that you can get the advice you need.

  9. We have a friend who has offered to donate sperm under the understanding that he remains completely anonymous (he already has kids) is this possible or is it something that we would need to disclose when the child is 18?

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you use a known donor then it for you and the donor to agree between you what information will be shared by the child and when. Studies show that it is generally in a child?s best interest for information about their origins to be shared with them in an open and child appropriate way. I strongly recommend that you and your donor enter into a donor conception agreement before proceedings. If you contact our office we would be happy to arrange an initial meeting for you to discuss this.

  10. Myself and my girlfriend are looking to conceive using a donor from a donor introduction website. We will bed using AI at home, how do we ensure she has legal responsibility for the child as early as possible?

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarah. You should seek specialist legal advice before proceeding with AI at home. The circumstances of the conception will dictate whether or not you and your girlfriend are both considered the child’s legal parent and this will have a significant impact for you and your child for the rest of their lives. If I can assist you please do not hesitate to contact me on 01273 646900.

  11. My partner and I are going to be using home AI, we want to get married but we want to get pregnant first could I be named on the birth certificate if we are married before the baby is born but after conception?

    1. Thank you for your comment Milo. The law around sperm donation and legal parenthood/parental responsibility is very complex and I strong encourage you to take specialise legal advice prior to conception. I am concerned that your proposed way forward could mean that you are not considered your child’s legal parent. If I can assist please do contact me directly.

  12. Hi.
    My husband and I are not able to conceive naturally. We do not wish to go down the IVF route. However a very intimate friend has offered to provide us with his sperm. Do the rules change if the encounter is intercourse or Ai? Also is it possible to have both my Husband and our Donor listed as the father on the birth certificate? And if yes, what r the legal implications?
    Many thanks
    Sam

    1. Thank you for your comment Sam. If a child is conceived via intercourse then the biological father will always be considered the legal father of a child. Donor conception is a very complicated area of law and I strongly advise you to take full advice about the impact on legal parenthood and parental responsibility before proceeding. Please contact our office and we would be happy to arrange an initial meeting for you.

  13. Hi, I have already had a baby with a friend doner by AI, the agreement was he is not on birth certificate and will not be known as dad. However we are still friends so he does see My baby .. does this give him any rights?

    1. Dear Amy. This is a very complex area of law and I strongly urge you to seek legal advice. If I can assist, please contact us on 01273 646900. Thank you.

  14. Hi, me and my wife are looking to fall pregnant through AI at home, we have joined a few donor websites and are making sure we lay out up front what we would want and expect from a donor. Me and my wife are the parents but i’m more than happy if they want to have pictures every few years or be updated. I also feel i would want our children to know who the donor is when they are older (18) as horrible and confusing as it is to have to involve a 3rd person, even tho me and my wife would be the parents, a child should know where they came from and the donor will be apart of them. I know because me and my wife are married the donor will have no rights to our child but is it still worth drawing up a contract and shelling out lots of money on lawyers is there is no legal right away, because we are married. To be perfectly honest its all very confusing. Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Dear Bekah – thank you for your comment. This is a very complex area of law and I strongly advise you to seek legal advice before proceeding any further. If I can assist please do not hesitate to contact me on 01273 646900. Many thanks, Lauren.

  15. My friend helped me have a baby with IVF, and he’s signed his rights away but had decided he wants to be on birth certificate will this give him rights?

    1. The legal parenthood of your child and rights of the biological father will depend on various factors. It is an important issue to resolve as there will be implications for your child throughout their minority and into their adulthood. This is a complex area of law so we recommend that you contact us to make an appointment so that we provide you with the right advice for your specific circumstances.

  16. My husband is donating sperm as a known donor to a lesbian married couple – we have yet to decide whether this will be at a clinic or at home but it will be by AI. My question is that if the parent couple were to divorce, would that change his legal position in terms of becoming responsible financially if the AI is done at home?

    1. Thanks for your comment Helen. Legal parenthood of a child is generally established at birth and would only be altered by way of an adoption, or in the case of surrogacy, parental order. Divorce does not change legal parenthood. I strongly recommend that you contact us so that you can take some legal advice prior to conception, especially as the circumstances around conception will impact on who is considered a child’s legal parent.

  17. Hi, I would like to document ‘sperm donor’ on my daughters birth certificate. She was conceived through intercourse by the biological father. He waves no parental responsibility towards his daughter as he is a married man.
    Do I need to obtain his consent to state ‘donar’ on our daughters bc?
    We live in the UK.

    1. Thank you for your comment Karen. Your daughter’s father is her legal father as she was conceived via intercourse. He will not have parental responsibility if you don’t name him on the birth certificate, although he could apply for it at a later date.

  18. Hi,
    I?m casually dating someone who has offered to be a donor for me. He doesn?t want to go on the birth certificate or have any rights to the child. He has said that if I want the child to know him he is willing to have some contact but not to raise the child or to help financially etc. We would have the child through intercourse. What sort of legal agreement could I get incase he changes his mind when the child is older and wants access? Thank you

    1. Thank you for your comment Elizabeth. If a child is conceived through intercourse then it will not be considered a donor conception. The biological father would be the child’s legal father. The law around donor conception and legal parenthood is complex and I strongly advise you to book an initial consultation to ensure you understand the law before you conceive.

  19. Hi,

    We are a separated lesbian couple. I conceived using a known donor sperm AI. My ex has a shared care order with parental rights and we co parent. Does the sperm donar have any rights to the child legally? We were never married/civil partnered at the time of conception.

    1. Thank you for your comment Samantha. This is a complex area of law and whether or not the donor is considered to be your child’s legal parent will depend on the circumstances around the conception. I recommend that you contact the office and make an appointment in order to explore this further.

  20. My husband and I consider divorce nevertheless given my age I want to have another child through sperm donor. Will he have parental rights if at conception we have not divorced yet?

    1. Thank you for your comment Elisabeth. If a married woman gives birth there is a presumption that her husband is the father that you will need to rebut. Legal parenthood is a particularly complex area when donor sperm is used as I strongly recommend that you contact the office to get the necessary advice before you conceive.

  21. If a sperm donor turns out to have a serious genetic condition should the clinic using the sperm be let know? Would they let the parents of any resultant child know?

    1. Thank you for your comment Nicola. There may be variations of screening policy between clinics. The clinic will be able to explain the conditions that they screen for and how information from their screening process is shared.

  22. Hi, Thank you for the helpful info, I want to use an unknown donar, but what father name should I put for my child? can I use any name? or my family?s name coz I?m single

    1. Thank you for your comment Jane. If you are using an unknown donor in a regulated clinic, you will be the only legal parent for your child and you will choose what surname should go on their birth certificate. This would usually be your surname.

  23. Hello! Me and my girlfriend are wanting to use a friend as a donor. We’ve all agreed that he won’t be parent to the child but will occasionally see child as we are all close friends. Do I need too get a signed document to insure he can’t change his mind once baby arrives incase he then says he wants to be part of child’s life as a parent. Ifso how do I go about getting said document. Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment Katrina. The law around donor conception is very complex and various factors will impact on who will and can be considered your child’s legal parent. I strongly advise you contact our office so that you can get some advice around this before conception. It may also be sensible to enter into a donor conception agreement with your donor and this is something that we could assist you with.

    2. I agreed to have a child with my now ex girlfriend via IVF and I signed the consent forms to say that I was happy to be named as father on the birth certificate. Embryo transfer is imminent but has not happened yet. Our circumstances have now changed. I?m still happy for her to go ahead with embryo transfer but I no longer wish to be named as the father on the birth certificate nor do I want to have legal responsibility for any child born. If I withdraw my consent to be named on the birth certificate now prior to transfer, will I be protected against legal responsibility for any child born? Thanks

    3. I suggest that you discuss the issue and the consent forms you have signed with your clinic.

  24. I conceived a baby using an informal/friend sperm donor. He now wants contact with his son which we agreed would not take place. I tried using two different sperm donors before him but the first let me down and second I didn’t get pregnant. He is denying that he was ever a sperm donor and claims he was used. Can I use the previous two guys as evidence that I was always clear of what my intentions were? And what rights does he have?

    1. Thank you for your comment Rebecca. The law around donor conception is complicated and it is important that you take advice as soon as possible so that you understand the legal relationship between your child and donor. The first thing to establish is whether or not your donor is considered in law to be a legal parent as this will impact on the advice we would give you. If you contact the office we will be able to book an initial meeting for you with our specialist solicitor.

  25. Hello my wife and I used her brother as the Sperm Donor and we used the at home insemination method. What do I need to do so that he has no rights to the baby besides being the baby?s uncle. Is there any paperwork I need or do we need to go to court? We live in California.

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are specialist family lawyers in England and you will need to seek advice in California as you are resident there.

  26. I asked my friend to be my known sperm donor. Both of us single and he is willing to build a family with me. I purchased donor eggs, (I don’t have my own). I offered for him to have full rights as co-parent. We now have embryos and i am waiting for transfer. I trust him completely but I would like to know what things we would need to consider since we are not married, are not in a relationship etc…

    1. The law around donor conception is complex and you should contact the office to arrange an appointment to get legal advice tailored to your individual situation.

  27. Hi, myself and my partner (both women) used a friend for sperm donation and had a little girl. We are currently having to go through the adoption process so I can be our daughters second parent legally. We aren’t married or civil partners. We are keen to have another child but want to avoid adoption and have no plans to get married immediately. Is there a document that can be prepared pre conception that helps us avoid this??

    1. You may find this blog post of interest: https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/same-sex-parenting-and-the-law/. One option is to conceive via a UK licenced clinic, that way (if the relevant forms are signed at the clinic) you and your partner will both be the legal parents and if you are both then named on the birth certificate you will both have parental responsibility. If you are looking to conceive outside of a UK licenced clinic the situation is more complicated. Detailed advice is beyond the scope of a blog post comment, if you would like legal advice on the options available you can call 01273 646900 to arrange a consultation with one of our specialist lawyers.

  28. My husband, without my knowledge, gave consent for a woman who he was seeing, again without my knowledge, to use his sperm so she could have a child. They did one AI and two IVF, the second being successful with twins. He paid 50% of the IVF fees and helped with money for the twins and saw them until they were 8 months old, when he told me of the affair and children and he has not seen them since. He agreed to have his name on the birth certificates and gave them his surname. The woman took him to court and an interim order was made for him to pay maintenance until the finalisation of a court case we have against her to make him a sperm donor with no financial responsibilities. As per your website it says that a known donor cannot be considered as the legal parent if the child is conceived through a licensed fertility clinic. Bearing in mind that he agreed to give the children his name on the birth certificates is there any chance that he can now be classified as a sperm donor with no financial responsibilities. We are considering taking the doctor to court for maintenance in that he performed the IVF without my consent.

    1. If a sperm donor donates via a clinic to a single woman he knows he might be the legal father; it will depend on the particular circumstances, including the paperwork signed at the clinic and what everyone intended about his role. Only a legal father can be named on the birth certificate of a child. The first thing therefore is to establish whether your husband is a legal parent. If he isn’t then he should not have been named on the birth certificate and an application for a declaration of non-parentage to enable re-registration of the child’s birth might be necessary. We would need to know a lot more about the case in order to advise, such advice is beyond the scope of a blog post comment. If you would like to arrange a consultation for legal advice in relation to your circumstance please contact us on 01273 646900 to arrange this.

  29. I?m a single woman considering using a sperm donor. I am currently deciding between using a clinic (for the limited attempts I could afford) or using a privately arranged known donor (with a formalised arrangement through a solicitor to be as safe as possible).

    I feel a responsibility to my potential child that they should have the option to try to contact the donor if they wish, after turning 18y. I understand that through a clinic the HFEA would take care of this. However, if I cannot afford a clinic, then I was wondering if there is any mechanism through which a legal firm such as yourselves, or another organisation, could store the donor information to be released if the child wants it after turning 18y. I understand that the donor would have to be agreeable (and would be under no obligation to respond to attempted contact in the future). My reason for asking is due to a slight concern that the child, perhaps as a teenager, would see me as the ?holder? of this information and the one with power to release or not release it. It would seem better for the information to be held somewhere outside of the home/family if that were possible.

    1. This is not a service that we as a law firm would provide. You could perhaps contact the Donor Conception Network to see if they are aware of any mechanism or organisation within which such information could be held https://www.dcnetwork.org/.

  30. Hello,

    Me and my partner are planning to do DIY insemination after we get married, using a friend as a donor. We would have to have a contract in place so I wondered where I should go to get a contract for this? Or whether we would write it up ourselves or find from the internet?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. You, your partner and your donor should all be clear at the outset about the role that the donor will have in the child?s life. Most disputes between parents and donors are based around a fundamental disagreement about what was agreed and envisaged at the outset. It is a good idea therefore to record your intentions in writing. A specialist family solicitor is best placed to help you to draw up a comprehensive document. The agreement will not be legally binding but it will hopefully prevent misunderstandings and it will also be evidence of intentions if a dispute does arise. This is a complicated area of law and your decisions will have lifelong implications for you and your child so you seek specialist legal advice about your specific situation. You can contact our modern families team to arrange an appointment by calling 01273 646900.

  31. Hello,

    I wondered if I could ask a bit more about the recommendation that a sperm donor agreement “Is likely to hold more weight if both parties have received legal advice and therefore understand their rights and responsibilities”.

    Please could I ask whether that advice should be from separate solicitor firms for both parties? (Or would it be sufficient for both parties to have separate discussions with the same solicitor). Would there be a record made of the fact that both parties have been provided with an understanding of their rights and responsibilities?

    I also wondered whether, as a recipient, is it possible for me to cover the cost of the donor’s discussion/advice? (Without that affecting the fact that the advice to the donor should be independent).

    Thank you

  32. I wondered if I could understand a bit more about the recommendation that a sperm donor agreement is likely to hold more weight if both parties have received legal advice and therefore understand their rights and responsibilities.

    Please could I ask whether that advice should be from separate solicitor firms for both parties? (Or would it be sufficient for both parties to have separate discussions with the same solicitor). Would there be a record made of the fact that both parties have been provided with an understanding of their rights and responsibilities?

    I also wondered whether, as a recipient, is it possible for me to cover the cost of the donor’s discussion/advice? (Without that affecting the fact that the advice to the donor is independent).

    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, the advice should be from separate solicitors who work at different law firms. It would not be sufficient for the parties to have separate discussions with the same solicitor, nor would it be sufficient for the parties to have separate discussions with different solicitors within the same law firm. There would be a record made within the Agreement of the fact that both parties have each received independent legal advice and that they understand their rights and responsibilities. It is possible for the recipient to cover the cost of the donor’s legal advice without that impacting the fact that the advice to the donor is independent.

  33. Hi. My partner and I are in a lesbian relationship. We are looking to get pregnant with the help of a known donor using AI at home. We are planning on getting pregnant and then getting married shortly after the birth of our child. We are in the process of writing up an agreement with the donor, stating that he wishes to remain anonymous, that he does not want contact with the child after birth and that the child was conceived through AI. Both the donor and ourselves are agreement on that part, however we have different opinions on whether his name should be on the agreement. The donor does not feel that his name should be on there as it was agreed by us all that he would be anonymous. My question is, would it be sufficient if the agreement did not have the donor?s name on it, or will it be counterproductive or nullifying to have such an agreement without his name being on it?

    Any advice would be helpful. Thank you for your help.

    1. Thank you for your question. The agreement is unlikely to be sufficient if it does not have the donor?s name on it, it could, however, contain a confidentiality clause if part of the agreement is that the donor is to remain anonymous. The legal situation with regards to parenthood and parental responsibility when conceiving a child as a non-married couple at home using a known donor is complicated. You should seek legal advice. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our specialist lawyers please call 01273 646900.

  34. Great website and information.

    My husband has a genetic disorder passed through the maternal line (his mother). We wish to use a sperm donor but also wish to keep his family genetics.

    What is the law/guidance around his father (my father in law) being the sperm donor?

    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your feedback and comment on this blog post. You can find guidance and information about conceiving via sperm donation on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority website https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/using-donated-eggs-sperm-or-embryos-in-treatment/ and you should discuss the option of using your father in law as the sperm donor with an expert at a UK Licenced Clinic https://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/.

  35. This is a really helpful thread. Thank you.

    I?m single and conceived using an unknown donor in a licensed fertility clinic. I understand that donor is not a legal parent. What do I write on the birth certificate? Do I leave the father / parent section blank?

    1. A sperm donor who registers with a UK licenced clinic and donates his sperm to unknown recipients will not be the legal father of any child conceived and therefore would not be named on the birth certificate. If you are single you will be the only legal parent and the only person that can be named on the birth certificate as a parent. We are unable to give specific advice though via a blog post, you should speak to the clinic to confirm your position.

  36. My child’s father is a long-time friend and she was conceived artificially in a hospital in the UK, using my eggs and his sperm. He’s named on my child’s birth certificate, so is he the legal father?

    1. Thank you for your comment. If the child was conceived in a UK licensed clinic you will need to contact the clinic in the first instance to confirm who the legal father is, as it will depend on the legal parenthood consent forms that were entered into prior to the child being conceived.

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