If you are a parent, co-parent or donor, our specialist family team can advise and support you through your journey.

Planning or growing your family is a very exciting time. If you are considering using donated sperm or eggs, we can ensure you are legally protected. It is vital that you understand the legal aspects, in case a dispute arises in the future. If you’re looking for information on surrogacy, click here.

Sperm and egg donor legal issues , who are the legal parents?

If you are a couple wishing to have a child through donor conception, you may do so by using an ‘unknown donor’ at a licensed clinic. Alternatively, someone you know may be willing to donate their eggs or sperm to you to assist conception , they are considered a ‘known donor’. As long as the donation occurs at a licensed clinic, there is no legal difference between a known and unknown donor.

A woman who gives birth to a baby is considered to be the legal mother by default, regardless of whether the egg was donated or her own. If the sperm came from the birth mother’s partner, they will automatically be considered the other legal parent, as long as they consented to the procedure e.g. through IVF treatment.

If a child is born as a result of a sperm or egg donation that occurred at a licensed clinic, the donor is not considered to be the legal parent. The birth mother can instead agree for her partner to be the other legal parent. However, if the donation takes place outside of a licensed clinic then you must be married or in a civil partnership in order for the birth mother’s partner to be considered as the child’s legal parent.

A woman who has donated her eggs or a man who has donated his sperm at a licensed clinic have no legal responsibility for any children born as a result, but when the child or children reach the age of 18, they are able to receive identifying information about the donor if they wish, so that they are able to make contact if they choose to do so. Information such as the donor’s medical history are provided at the point of donation and non-identifying information about the donor can be given to the child or children when they reach 16 years of age.

Can I use a known sperm donor at home?

Rather than use a clinic, some people make an arrangement with someone they know for them to donate their sperm at home. It’s important to understand the legal issues with known sperm donors if you choose this route.

  • You don’t have the screening and health protections provided by the clinic for sperm donations.
  • If the child is conceived through intercourse with the sperm donor then they will be considered the legal parent of the child, whether or not they are named on the birth certificate.
  • If you conceive through artificial insemination, the sperm donor will not automatically be the legal parent or have parental responsibility, unless you choose to put them on the birth certificate. Your civil partner, husband or wife can be given parental responsibility instead. However, if you are not married or in a civil partnership, they cannot be named on the birth certificate and would instead need to adopt the child to become their legal parent.
  • The donor does not automatically have any rights or responsibilities towards the child. However, they could potentially make a legal application for a child arrangement order at some point in the future in order to establish their time and contact with the child.

How Moore Barlow Solicitors can help you?

We recommend that you always seek expert legal advice from Moore Barlow Solicitors before using a sperm donor outside of the protection of a licensed clinic in order to have a child. This area of law is highly complex and it’s important that you fully understand the implications of the decisions you make with regards to sperm donation laws. We have experience within our family law team on matters of this type and can offer egg and sperm donor solicitor advice to help make sure that you have all the legal support you need to take the next steps as a family.

Our expert family law team work across our offices in London, Southampton, Richmond, Lymington, Woking and Guildford and we offer specialist support to clients nationwide. Contact us for more information on how we can help.

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