Many families are now choosing to become parents through donor gametes and technological advances in this area have made this an increasingly viable option for couples who are not able to conceive naturally. Our specialist family solicitors can help with all aspects of UK law for parents, and donors through donor conception to co-parenting.
Gametes is the scientific term for an organism’s reproductive cells, also referred to as sex cells. Female gametes are called ova or egg cells and male gametes are called sperm. When a sperm cell enters an egg cell then am embryo is created.
Donor conception is a procedure which makes it possible for a person through gamete or embryo donation to have a child and become a parent.
Some people choose to or require the assistance of donated eggs, embryos, or sperm.
From that point the donated eggs, embryos or sperm are then inseminated into the person who will carry the child. Insemination can take place at a fertility clinic if using a known donor. At a fertility clinic the donor is not the child’s legal parent unless you choose otherwise. Insemination can also take place outside of a fertility clinic however specialist legal advice should be obtained beforehand as there are legal implications to parenthood.
In the UK, the legal mother of a child is the person who gives birth to the child, not the woman who donated the eggs/embryos. This can therefore protect the birth mother. UK law also provides that fathers who conceive with donated sperm are the legal father, even though they are not the biological parents.
If you are married or in a civil partnership, your partner will automatically be the legal parent unless they do not consent to the fertility treatment.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership with your partner, they will not automatically become the legal parent unless both provide consent to the insemination treatment before it takes place. This applies also when you are in a female same sex relationship and your partner for example is donating her eggs.
If you are not in a relationship but are co-parenting, then that person will not become the legal parent. In this case, you may wish to obtain advice on entering into a co-parenting agreement setting out your intentions.
If you are single, then consent to legal parenthood is not required if having treatment through a sperm donor. If you give birth you are automatically the legal parent and the donor has no rights or responsibilities to the child.
If using a known donor, then we can help you put in place pre-conception agreements which provide clear evidence if there is ever a dispute and will help minimise the risk of mismatched expectations which can often lead to problems later down the line.
This is an extremely complex area of law. There are different rules and considerations to take into account depending on whether you conceive through a UK fertility clinic, or if you conceive with a known donor or without the assistance of a fertility clinic.
The key is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of what the legal status of everyone involved could be, including who can be named on a child’s birth certificate, what information may the child be entitled to, and significantly who will be legally and financially responsible for your child.
Our experienced family solicitors can assist you from the earliest stage of this process whether it may be to secure your status as a child’s legal parent(s), completing clinic forms, to put in place a pre-conception agreement, or through to representing you in a Court application.
As well as this it is also important to consider future planning for children. our specialist private client team can assist with wills, tailored to your family dynamic.
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