Planning a family is incredibly exciting, and there will be a lot of decisions to make. If you are planning to conceive with a known donor or co-parent, it’s important to think carefully about how you want to set things up, to ensure that everyone is happy with plans for the conception, pregnancy and beyond, the legal parental status of all involved, and in the long-term, who will be actively involved in raising the child.
Here are 5 useful tips for the planning stages of your journey:
* Decide what you want from the arrangement. If you are seeking the help of a donor, would you like your donor to be involved in the child’s life in some capacity? If so, what level of involvement would you envisage? If you are providing your sperm or eggs, do you see yourself as a co-parent, or a donor with no wish for involvement in the child’s life?
* Talk to each other. It’s so important to have thorough discussions about your expectations and how you envisage your arrangement working in practice. You may find that there are things which the other person raises which you haven’t even considered. It’s much better to identify and address areas of potential tension at this stage rather than further down the line.
* Understand your legal position. It’s crucial to understand your legal position at the planning stages, as this can have an impact on how you decide to proceed. You should make sure that everyone is clear on who the child’s legal parents will be, who will be named on their birth certificate and who will have a right to be involved in important decisions during the child’s life. The expert directory has information on specialist fertility lawyers who will be able to help you.
* Put something in writing. Although pre-conception agreements are not legally binding, it’s really useful to have a written document which records what you have agreed. Having a document to work from also encourages you to discuss sensitive issues which you may otherwise avoid talking about.
* Finally, take your time. With so much to think about, you will want to spend time considering whether this is the right thing for you. Take time to get advice, talk to everyone involved and plan your journey. It’ll be worth it.
Suzi is a fertility lawyer at Ellis Jones solicitors, advising people who are building their families through donation and co-parenting arrangements.