Donor Conception Solicitors
For same-sex couples, artificial insemination using donor sperm is a popular route to becoming parents.
In the UK, same-sex couples have two broad options for donor conception: using donated sperm through a HFEA licensed clinic or by insemination at home. However, your relationship status and the method you choose can have significant implications with regard to legal parenthood.
What is donor conception?
In donor conception, eggs, sperm or embryos from donors are used to help with conception. It can be used when heterosexual couples are unable to conceive, or when a woman without a male partner or a lesbian couple wishes to start a family.
Donor conception for couples who are married or in a civil partnership
If you are married or in a civil partnership, you will both become the child’s legal parents at the time of conception. However, the child must be conceived by artificial insemination, either at a UK fertility clinic or by private arrangement (for example, with a male friend acting as the known donor).
The non-birth mother will be named on the birth certificate and have full parental rights and legal responsibilities, in much the same way a father has.
Couples who aren’t married or in a civil partnership
If you’re not married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception, you can still become joint parents. However, the way in which you conceive your child will differ.
Crucially you can only conceive at a licensed UK fertility clinic, meaning that home insemination isn’t an option for you. Before you start treatment, the clinic will ask you both to sign forms consenting to the non-birth mother being named on the birth certificate and becoming the child’s legal parent.
These forms can’t be signed after donor conception, during the pregnancy or following the child’s birth, so you must be trying to conceive together from the outset.
You can still opt for home insemination or by using a clinic outside of the UK, but the non-birth mother will have no parental rights and must apply to adopt the child.
What legal rights do sperm donors have?
If you donate sperm through a licensed UK clinic, you won’t have parental responsibility for any child conceived using your sperm. Donors cannot be asked to support that child financially and will not be named on the birth certificate.
You will have much less protection if you’re donating informally or as part of a private agreement. If the recipient is married or in a civil partnership and both she and her partner are the child’s legal parents, you’ll have no financial or parental responsibility. This is because the child can only have two legal parents.
However, if the non-birth mother isn’t the legal parent and isn’t named on the birth certificate, you (the donor) will be the legal father of any child conceived using your donation.
How our fertility law solicitors can help
Donor conception law is complex. If you’re thinking of conceiving a child with donated sperm or if you want advice on becoming a legal parent of a child conceived using a surrogate, our specialist fertility lawyers can advise you on what to do next, and guide you through the process.