If you are a known egg donor then you will not be treated as your child’s legal mother under English law, since the law says that the woman who carries a child is his or her legal mother.
If your recipients conceive in the UK, your details will be recorded on the Register of Information held at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Your offspring will have legal rights to access that information as they grow up, including being able to find out your name and address once they are 18 (if their parents have not shared information about their genetic origins with them).
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. See the notes for parents within the Using Known Donors section for further detail on the different possible scenarios.
If you are treated as your child’s legal father then, whether or not you are named on the birth certificate, you will be financially responsible for your child and could be pursued for maintenance and other financial provision. 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.
You may wish to consider putting in place a donor agreement to help manage the legal issues. While a donor agreement is not strictly legally binding the process of putting an agreement in place can be helpful in managing everyone’s expectations and may also be of evidential benefit to a court dealing with any dispute.
The law on known sperm donation is complicated and it is well worth checking you understand how the following questions would be answered in your particular situation:
- Will you be your child’s legal parent?
- Will you be named on the birth certificate (and do you understand the significance of this in legal terms)
- Will you be financially responsible for your child?
- Who will inherit your assets in the event of your death?
- Should you put in place a donor agreement?
- How can you best manage your relationship over time so as to avoid difficulties arising?
For more detailed information, visit Natalie Gamble Associates' pages on the law for egg and sperm donors.