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Egg, sperm and embryo freezing: what could go wrong?

Egg, sperm and embryo freezing can help preserve and maximise individual fertility. However, it is not a failsafe way to guarantee conception and delivery of a much-wanted baby. There are a variety of practical and legal issues to consider. Not freezing gametes and embryos at all, delaying collection and freezing and failing to build up sufficient reserves of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos can undermine your chances of successful family building. Failing to consider the legal aspects which govern the storage and use of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos in fertility treatment can also create unwanted problems and even prevent their use in treatment.
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DNA testing, parentage disputes and the law

DNA testing can create unexpected issues and outcomes that have a far wider impact on people’s lives than they ever imagined. They can include unforeseen discoveries about conception, maternity and paternity, unknown siblings and relatives. They can also uncover family secrets and stories of loss and infidelity, as well as IVF mix-ups, fertility fraud, donor conception and adoption that can upend the lives of individuals and families. In turn, these discoveries can result in complex legal disputes about parentage, birth certificates, contact and upbringing of a child, child maintenance and inheritance, negligence as well as evolving issues about the use of personal genetic information. Given the rapidly evolving landscape associated with DNA testing, it is important to obtain specialist legal advice to identify, manage and resolve the complex and far-reaching legal and practical issues and outcomes.
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Declaration of parentage: confirming family ancestry and biological parentage following adoption

The recent family law case of Ms L; Ms M (Declaration of Parentage) [2022] EWFC 38 determined fundamental questions about ‘who is my parent?’. The legal proceedings concerned applications by two women who had been adopted as babies and whether decades later they could obtain declarations of parentage to resolve their family ancestry, confirm the identities of their biological fathers and rectify their original birth certificates to add the name of their birth father. In making these applications, the two women gave compelling evidence about the importance of obtaining declarations of parentage notwithstanding being adopted to resolve their personal identities and lineage, aid their long-term psychological welfare and acquire dual citizenship.
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Sperm Donor Dispute: Parental Responsibility, Child Arrangements Orders and Fragile X Syndrome

The recent sperm donor dispute case of MacDougall v SW & Ors (sperm donor: parental responsibility or contact) (24 May 2022) highlights the problems that can arise following privately arranged sperm donation in the absence of specialist legal advice and clear expertly drafted bespoke known donor agreements. The case concerned four children whose biological father, James MacDougall, acted as a private sperm donor to women who were all (or had been) in lesbian relationships. Legal disputes arose because Mr MacDougall sought parental responsibility and child arrangements orders in respect of the children against the wishes of their mothers in three linked cases. Unusually, the Judge decided to name Mr MacDougall on public interest grounds, ruling that the public benefit in naming him outweighed the risk of identification of the children.
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