As medical reproductive technology rapidly advances, more men and women are able to become parents who otherwise may not have been able to do so. One of the less invasive techniques often used is artificial insemination. An intended father can act as a sperm donor. Or, if the intended father suffers from fertility issues, a third party can donate, often anonymously. Single women and lesbian couples can also use anonymous donors.
While this technology can provide loving parents with the children they want, those parents may reasonably have questions about their legal status as parents and the status of the donor. After all, their legal status will affect custody decisions should one parent die, should the parents divorce, or should a sperm donor decide he wants to play a role in a child's life. Hence, this is where the Illinois Parentage Act comes into play.
The Illinois Parentage Act
The Illinois Parentage Act provides that children who are born as a result of heterologous artificial insemination are to be considered the same under the law as would be any children conceived “naturally” by a husband and wife. While the use of the word “naturally” may be a bit insensitive, what this means is that when a married couple chooses to have a child through artificial insemination, and both partners consent, then the law will treat the child the same as it would if the couple had conceived the child without the use of reproductive technology.
The law also provides that, so long as a licensed physician supervises the procedure and the husband consents, the husband will be treated as the parent of a child conceived using this technology with the assistance of a sperm donor. The donor of the semen will be treated by the law as if he were not the biological father of the child conceived through the use of the technology.
What about Same-Sex Couples?
The Act was written before same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois, so its language only seems to contemplate heterosexual couples finding themselves in this scenario. That being said, its application to same-sex couples would likely be the same as it is for heterosexual couples. The wife of a woman who undergoes this sort of treatment would have a strong argument that she should be treated as a legal parent of the child, so long as she consents. And it seems that the rights of the sperm donor, or lack there of, should not be legally effected by the gender of the inseminated woman's spouse.
Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.
Family law is one of the most intellectually and emotionally complex areas of the law. When you have questions about these complex issues, contact the compassionate and experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. Call us today at 630-665-7676 and we can schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns.