Sperm Donation and Parental Rights

Fertility Challenges

In the past, when couples had difficulty conceiving children during marriage, their only option was to adopt. With modern-day technology, there are now several ways couples can produce children with at least one partner’s genetic contribution, either via artificial insemination or by using a surrogate to carry the baby to term.

The decision to use a sperm donor for artificial insemination is a deeply private and personal one. Recently though, it is not just heterosexual married couples who seek donors; it is also women who are single and lesbian couples who want to create families of their own.

Most of the time, individuals or couples obtain sperm from donors at a sperm bank. The donor identities remain anonymous. However, couples can choose to obtain sperm through a donor with whom they are acquainted. There are many reasons why couples may desire to choose this option. The couple might want to know more about the donor’s genetic and environmental background or they may want to allow the donor to have the right to interact with the child in the future.

Legal Risks

The decision to use a sperm donor has potentially serious legal ramifications for everyone involved. Both the donor and the couple should know their rights before going through the process.

The Uniform Parentage Act (UPA)

Some states possess laws to address the responsibilities and rights of sperm donors and the donation of sperm in general. Quite a few states now have some form of the federal law known as the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA), which was first enacted in 1973. UPA originally provided that a husband who agrees in writing to his wife being inseminated with the help of a doctor is legally considered the father of the future child. In contrast, under UPA, someone who donates sperm to a doctor for use in artificial insemination of an individual who is not his wife will not legally be the father of the child.

UPA was revised in the year 2000 and amended in 2002, and no longer requires that the donor give the sperm to a doctor to be seen as a non-parent.

Parties Contemplating the Use of a Known Donor Should Abide by These Guidelines:

  1. Know your state’s law regarding sperm donor’s rights and sperm donation. Follow the requirements strictly.
  2. Make sure the donor provides the semen sample to a physician, and that any consent forms you sign at the clinic expressly state your intentions regarding parental status.
  3. Hire a family law attorney to draft a written contract spelling out the rights and responsibilities of the sperm provider. Yet be aware that not all courts will enforce these agreements.

Resources and Family Law Help

If you have any family law questions regarding sperm donation and artificial insemination, or you want more information on the process of adoption, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.