Legal aspects of known donor arrangements

12 August 2020

There are a wide range of reasons why people to choose to become a known donor or conceive a child through known donation. Friendship, altruism, biological legacy, family narrative, personal situations and previous experiences can be important factors.

Types of known donation

There are a number of different ways to build a family through known egg or sperm donation, including:

  • Inter-family donation.
  • A friend or personal contact.
  • Through a website or online group.

Legal issues

A known donor arrangement creates a number of complex legal issues, implications and outcomes depending on marital status as well as the method of conception: private assisted conception, fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic, overseas fertility treatment.

If fertility treatment is undertaken in a clinical setting, issues arise in relation to storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos in fertility treatment. Additional issues can also arise concerning varying, extending or withdrawing consent to the storage and use of gametes and embryos in treatment.

Further legal issues associated with a known donor arrangement relate to status, parental rights and obligations, family and biological identity, financial responsibility, birth certificate arrangements, contact, care and upbringing of a child and unexpected changes in circumstances. These, and other issues, require understanding and careful legal consideration and management on a case by case basis. Feelings and perceptions can also change over time.

It is therefore the consistent message of the English Family Court that parties to a known donor arrangement should obtain independent specialist legal advice and enter into a bespoke known donor agreement from the outset.

The value of specialist fertility and family law advice

Specialist fertility and family law advice helps individuals and families identify, understand and navigate the complex and wide-ranging legal, practical and wider issues associated with known donation. We provide a range of legal services to include:

  • A known donation Legal Starter Kit (including a known donation legal information guide, questionnaire and known donor agreement template).
  • Expert legal advice on the legal, practical and wider issues arising from a known donor arrangement on a case by case basis.
  • Preparation of a bespoke known donor agreement.
  • Advice and representation in respect of a known donor dispute between parent/s and a known donor about legal status and arrangements for the care and upbringing of a child (to include negotiation, correspondence and court proceedings).

Need a known donor lawyer or a fertility lawyer? If you would like to discuss your situation or you require specialist fertility and family law advice and assistance please contact Louisa by email  or by telephone +44 (0)20 7965 8399.

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