Sperm Donor Rights: Get A Proper Preconception Agreement11th Dec 2015
Legal battles involving sperm donors - specifically known donors - are more common than you might imagine.
A female same-sex couple wanting children will need a sperm donor. Some choose to use someone they know and trust, rather than an anonymous donor.
But a recent High Court case shows that even using a trusted known donor can still have its pitfalls.
In the case concerned, the women and their known donor made the mistake of downloading a template sperm donation agreement from the internet.
Instead they should have used a proper Preconception Agreement drawn up by a family law solicitor with specialist expertise in this field.
That would have saved them from the ensuing legal wrangle over whether or not the terms of the downloaded agreement were varied or not - and whether or not the sperm donor should have direct contact with the child in future.
They also made the mistake of - in the words of the judge - “wholly underestimating the emotional consequences of the arrangement they embarked on.”
It would take too long to recount the full details of the court’s 13-page ruling on the sperm donor’s unsuccessful application for direct contact with the child.
But the law on these matters is clear: the legal parents of a child are the birth mother and her long-term partner (if married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception), regardless of sex. In this case, that is not the child’s biological father.
Again we stress, it is vital to have a proper Preconception Agreement in cases such as this - not merely a known sperm donor agreement template cribbed from the internet.
Preconception Agreements are much like Prenuptial Agreements in that - although they are not legally binding - they are gaining increasing traction when tested in court.
A court is more likely to follow what is set out in a Preconception Agreement if it has been drawn up properly and the terms are sensible, fair and reasonable.
However, the welfare of a child is the court’s paramount concern in all cases involving children and this will take precedence over an agreement.
For expert advice on same sex and fertility law, contact family law solicitor and mediator Richard Perrins at Coles Miller’s Broadstone office, 01202 355698.