If you are planning on having a baby by artificial insemination, you need to know what the legal rights and responsibilities are of you, your partner and the donor. This will depend on whether the sperm comes from a licensed UK fertility clinic or someone known to you.
If the sperm used comes from a licensed UK fertility clinic then, subject to the clinic complying with certain procedures correctly, you and your partner should both be able to be the child’s legal parents from birth.
The clinic will ask you to sign a number of important documents. It is crucial that you understand the legal implications of what you are signing and that the clinic follows the correct procedure. Parents choosing to have a baby this way should seek legal advice to ensure that everything is in order before the birth of the baby.
Getting legal advice is also important if you are planning to have a baby using the sperm of someone known to you. Private fertility arrangements are not regulated and you do not have the same medical and legal protection offered by going through a fertility clinic.
It is generally recommended that all parties enter into a written agreement before going ahead. Whilst courts cannot enforce such agreements, it is a useful way of clarifying all parties’ positions before the baby is born to minimise future misunderstandings.
How We Can Help
We can assist you through the whole process or meet you for one-off initial consultation if you would prefer. Our advice covers:
- Issues surrounding the process and who is the legal parent in different circumstances;
- Advice on legal rights surrounding sperm and egg donation;
- Advice on the documentation to be signed for UK fertility clinics;
- Drafting private agreements before conception;
- Applications to become a legal parent.
For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 020 7631 4141 and ask to speak to our Forming Families team.
This is when a woman uses the sperm of someone who is not her sexual partner to fertilise an egg. This can either take place outside the intended mother’s body, through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or inside the intended mother’s body, through intrauterine insemination (IUI).
This is when a woman donates eggs to the intended mother, to be fertilised. The most common procedure involves the donating female and the intended mother synchronising their menstrual cycles.
The egg is then fertilised outside of the body using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and then transferred into the intended mother’s womb.
There are other procedures available when eggs are donated. We recommended seeking medical advice or visiting the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s website for more information.
This is a complex question with a number of different answers. If you give birth to the baby, then you are the ‘birth mother’ and you will always be the legal mother at birth. This applies even where the egg is donated and the baby has no genetic link to the birth mother.
If you and your partner are married or in a civil partnership, you are both automatically the legal parents and both have parental responsibility. This is the case whether you are a heterosexual or same-sex couple.
If you and your partner are not married it is more complicated. If you are not the birth parent (so the non-birth female in a lesbian relationship and the male partner in a heterosexual relationship) you can be the legal parent but there are strict procedural requirements that must be met in order for this to happen. It is strongly recommended that couples seek legal advice about the procedure before conception to avoid problems post birth.
You can use the sperm of an anonymous donor via a UK licensed fertility clinic. Alternatively, you can use the sperm or eggs of someone known to you – often called a private fertility arrangement.
If you are considering entering into a private fertility arrangement, we recommend that you enter into an agreement relating to the child before conception. This will reduce the possibility of parenting and contact disputes later down the line.
A woman who donates eggs will not obtain any legal rights at birth, unless she is in a relationship with the birth mother. In this scenario, the donor can be the second legal parent, subject to certain requirements being met. A man who donates sperm will not have any legal rights over the baby if he donates sperm to a UK licensed fertility clinic and the recipients are not known to him.
Where the recipients know the donor, then the situation is a little more complicated. The donor can be the legal parent at birth if you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership.
It is a very complex area of law, which is constantly evolving. Whether you are the birth mother, the partner of the birth mother or the donor, it is crucial that you understand your legal rights and obligations before conception.