What are the legal considerations of using donor sperm?

If your child is born from sperm that’s donated through an HFEA registered clinic in the UK, the baby will be the legal child of you and your partner (if you have one).

This means that the sperm donor has no legal rights or responsibilities for your child, although the child can find identifying information about their father once they are 18. However, if you obtain sperm from a web-based service, it’s important to remember that the legal situation regarding the child’s father may be more complicated:

  • The donor may be the legal father of any child born. The law says that a man donating sperm through an HFEA-licensed clinic is not the legal father of any child born through that donation (this includes cases where the donor is known to the recipient). However, when donation occurs outside a licensed clinic, this guarantee does not exist.
  • In cases where a female couple, who are not civil partners, have treatment outside a licensed clinic, the law does not recognise the female partner as the second parent; this means that she would have to formally adopt the child at birth to become a legal parent
  • There is a risk that the sperm may not come from the person whose picture or details you saw on the website
  • Any children who are born following unlicensed donation will not have an official way of finding out their genetic origins, as the HFEA will not hold information about their donor on its Register
  • If the donor receives payments above the amounts permitted by the Authority, then licensed clinics may not be able to provide treatment with sperm from that donor at a later date

The HFEA advises that you should only use a licensed clinic. That way, you can be certain that all the quality checks and legal requirements have been met.

Carole Gilling-Smith, Director of the Agora, explains: “Our advice is simple: only use a licensed clinic. That way, you can be assured that all the quality checks and legal requirements have been met.”

Contact us for more advice or for information on finding a suitable sperm donor.

Source: The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority

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Human Fertilisation Embryo Authority

More information about using donor sperm can be found on the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) website.