Law for Known Donors
Known egg and sperm donation: for donors
If you are intending to play any kind of ongoing role as an egg or sperm donor, it is important to set strong foundations to avoid disputes later, and that everyone is clear and agrees about how your arrangement will work. See the sections on disputes and problems and donor agreements for more information.
Egg donors who donate on a known basis
If you are a known egg donor then you will not be treated as your child’s legal mother under UK law, since the law says that the woman who carries a child (and no other) is his or her legal mother. That means that you have no legal or financial responsibilities in respect of any child conceived as a result of your donation.
If your recipients conceive at a fertility clinic in the UK, your details will be recorded on the Register of Information held at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the same way as an unknown donor. Even though your recipients will know who you are if you are donating on a known basis, this means that your donor-conceived offspring will have legal rights to access information about you as they grow up, including being able to find out your name and address once they are 18 (for example if you lose touch with your recipients).
Sperm donors who donate on a known basis
If you are a known sperm donor, the law is more complicated. Whether or not you are treated as your child’s legal father will depend on the relationship status of your recipients, as well as whether you conceive at a clinic or at home.
- You will not be the child’s legal father if your recipients are married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception, the child is conceived through artificial insemination or IVF and both partners consent. This is because the birth mother and her partner will be the legal parents, the law provides that you are then not the father for any legal purpose.
- You will not be the child’s legal father if your recipients are an unmarried couple, and conceive at a licensed clinic in the UK and sign the necessary forms to make them both legal parents. Again, this is because the birth mother and her partner will be the legal parents, and the law provides that you are then not the father for any legal purpose.
- In other situations (for example if you are donating to a single woman or to an unmarried couple conceiving through home insemination) you will usually be the child’s legal father.
This means that you will be financially responsible for your child and could be pursued for maintenance or other financial support. Your child will also have a right of inheritance from you in the event of your death (although this may be excluded by a carefully drafted Will).
Whether you are named on the birth certificate is also significant, since if you are your child’s legal father and are named on the birth certificate, you will acquire ‘parental responsibility’ which gives you the right to be involved in important decision making about your child’s upbringing.
For more detailed information, visit NGA Law’s free and searchable online Knowledge Centre http://www.nataliegambleassociates.co.uk/knowledge-centre
Page last reviewed: 12/6/2018