Demand for donor sperm is increasing because around 35% of men in the UK are sub-fertile, more women are choosing to become solo mothers and more lesbian couples are choosing to have children.
If you are donating sperm or eggs so that someone can have a child, you will want to ensure that you are legally protected. You may be concerned about financial claims being made against you in future, or the impact that providing a donation could have on your own family.
It is important for you to take proper legal advice on the implications of your donation. Failure to do so could have significant implications for you, and for the donee family. It could leave you exposed to legal disputes in the future.
As a top family law firm, incorporating world-leading expertise in fertility and family law, Vardags can help you steer you through any legal issues arising from your donation.
We will work with you to provide bespoke advice which protects your position and allows you to co-operate as fully as possible with the donee family. We will help you to ensure your donation follows the correct legal requirements and doesn’t leave you exposed to future claims. We will also help you if a dispute has arisen, with our world-leading position in fertility law.
If you conceive with a sperm donor by private arrangement outside of a UK fertility clinic, the donor could be considered the legal parent of the child with all the rights and responsibilities that flow from this. Complex legal issues also arise if you conceive privately through a straight surrogacy arrangement (where the surrogate conceives with her own egg). The law can apply differently depending on your relationship status (whether you are single, married, or in a civil partnership at the point of conception), how you conceive (artificial conception or sexual intercourse), who is named on the child’s birth certificate, and whether the donor will have/has an established relationship with the child. Given all of these variables it is important to obtain specialist legal advice.
Conception with a known donor can provide a more personal dimension to your family building arrangement, however, it can also create risks in practice because the parties are known to each other. Changes of heart, disagreements and changes of circumstances can have an impact on your overall legal position, particularly after the birth if the donor has established a relationship with the child.To protect yourself against these risks, you should seriously consider entering into a carefully written known donor agreement. If you do, the English Family Court can take this into account if a dispute arises. Whilst the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child, your known donor agreement can be important evidence, clearly illustrating what was intended, understood, and agreed between you and your donor.
The law surrounding sperm donation is complex in the UK and can apply differently depending on a number of different factors, such as whether the woman who is conceiving is single, married, or in a civil partnership at the point of conception, whether conception takes place artificially or via sexual intercourse, whether conception takes place at a UK clinic or by private arrangement, who is named on the child’s birth certificate, and whether as a donor you will have an established relationship with the child.
There are a number of ways to donate eggs including: to a donor egg bank, to a female relative, friend, contact or as a straight surrogate (who donates her own egg as well as carries the pregnancy). We know that, as an egg donor, you are entering into an intricate and emotional situation. In a number of cases there are added layers of complexity, for example, where you are a known donor, engaging in an egg-swapping arrangement as a same-sex couple, or where there is an inter-family donation.
When difficulties or disputes arise between an egg or sperm donor and the recipient, it can create a range of legal, medical, and emotional issues. This might lead to you wanting to withdraw consent to their use of eggs, sperm or embryos. A dispute could also develop during treatment, pregnancy or after the birth of the child, and could lead to contested court proceedings over the care and upbringing of them.
The decision to embark upon treatment at a fertility clinic is not risk free. Although many experiences lead to positive outcomes, fertility treatment can create complex legal and medical issues, such as: problems with consent forms (incorrectly completed, lost or mislaid) which govern the procurement, storage, and use of eggs, sperm and embryos; loss, destruction, or wrongful use of eggs, sperm, or embryos; problems with fertility treatment, tests, and medication; refusal, restrictions, or delay in providing treatment.Vardags can provide you with experienced and specialist legal advice on resolving a fertility law dispute with a clinic, expert witness services for fertility, parenting, and surrogacy law following clinical negligence, and fertility treatment law in the UK.
Modern families and those built through assisted conception, donor conception, and surrogacy create complex legal issues under English law. The law is not always a ‘good fit’. It does not always legally protect parents, children, donors and surrogates in their home or destination countries. This can create unforeseen issues and outcomes and generate international conflicts of law, possibly leaving parents and children without legal status and recognition.Vardags can support you with specialist legal advice on citizenship, nationality, and immigration law in the UK, and legal parental status (legal parenthood and parental responsibility) if questions are raised by a doctor, health visitor, nursery staff, teacher, or border official.
We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390. Lines are staffed 24 hours.
When you contact us a member of our client relations team will take the full details of your situation, assess whether we can assist you, and if so, determine the best team for your case.
Vardags is one of the UK’s leading divorce law firms. We specialise in complex, high net worth and international cases. The Legal 500 has said of Vardags: “The team is noted for its sheer intellect”
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Vardags is a top law firm with a trailblazing fertility and surrogacy department. We have had success with some of the most groundbreaking cases of the last decade in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court, with rulings that have changed the law. Vardags remains at the cutting edge of fertility law, pushing for further improvement of the outdated legislation in place in Britain.
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