If you are considering assisted conception by private donor because you are unable to conceive through conventional methods, you are not alone. It is becoming increasingly common for couples or individuals to seek such assistance as an alternative to seeking help from a licenced IVF clinic.
It is important to obtain advice about your situation, whether you intend to enter into an arrangement in the UK or abroad, to understand all aspects of the processes and requirements before committing to any steps to ensure that you, as well as your current and future family, is properly protected from a legal perspective.
Parents may also need advice on co-parenting agreements, financial provisions for children and any disputes that may occur involving children.
Co-parenting in this context refers to the scenario whereby an individual or couple who may be seeking a sperm donor, join forces with another couple or individual male to start a family.
A co-parenting agreement can set out the arrangements for the avoidance of doubt between the intended parents and the child to ensure that each parent understands their intended role and relationship in the future. It is intended to provide certainty in the event of future disagreement. Preparing a co-parenting agreement needs careful consideration and provides an opportunity to consider all the issues relating to the upbringing of the child, such as who will be on the child’s birth certificate and who the child will live or spend time with, if at all.
Co-parenting agreements are not legally binding in that it is not an order of the court, rather it provides evidence of your agreement and intentions for any child, should a court be asked to consider any dispute in the future.
If you’re donating sperm, it is important to consider the future consequences. It is also important to note that it is illegal in England and Wales to donate sperm for your own commercial gain.
If you choose to donate your sperm at a licensed IVF clinic, any children born because of your donation will not be your legal children. Although being genetically linked to the children, you will have no parental rights or responsibilities in the future, although any child conceived through use of your sperm may have a right to access information about you in the future. You need to be certain of such rights before committing to the process.
If you donate sperm as a known donor, outside the legal restrictions of an IVF clinic your role as a legal father may not be excluded and you may acquire obligations, for example financial support for any child that had not been anticipated or agreed at the outset.
It is therefore important to obtain legal advice before committing to a donation and seek to enter into an agreement designed to protect a donor from any potential financial consequences or parental responsibilities.
It is worth noting that not all agreements are legally binding in the UK, and in any dispute involving a child requiring court intervention, the court will consider the best interests of the child during a case rather than the wishes or needs of the parent. Each case will turn on its own facts, but a family court is likely give greater weight to any agreement, providing all parties have obtained independent legal advice before entering into it.
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