In an unprecedented judgment that could have far-reaching effects on families all over the UK, men who donate sperm to help families have babies may be able to have some say in the child’s upbringing, even though they have nothing to do with raising them. This is the first ever ruling relating to a sperm donor and their ability to help bring up a child they helped conceive. Experts have stated that this could change the way heterosexual and gay couples look at the sperm donor process. They warned that couples deciding to go this route should think about writing up a contract beforehand, such as a co-parenting deal or a prenuptial agreement.
This judgment, handed down by the Family Division of the court, happened because of a disagreement between two lesbian couples who were friend’s with two males who are homosexual. One of the men is the father of the two children of one of the couples, while the other is the donor for one child being raised by the other couple. At the time of the reproductive agreements all relationships between parents and donors were friendly, but over time the two men wanted more contact with their biological children. The two males brought the case before the court.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 2008 says that same-sex couples with children gained due to sperm donors, eggs or embryos are both legal parents of the child. The law has never granted donors any rights until now. This case means the donors can now apply for visitation or other parental rights. Before this ruling such applications would have been ignored, but now the court must consider them along with the donor’s connection to the child and the effect it might have on the child’s life.
The problem with this ruling is that the parents of the child also need to be considered. A lawyer for one of the lesbian couples said that this court decision had terrifying implications for parents of children gained from donor sperm in the future.
The important thing to be learned from this ruling is that if you are considering using a sperm donor, then you need to make sure you understand that donor’s intentions, and you should make sure you have everything in writing so that there are no surprises in the future. Sperm donors now have rights that they’ve never had before and this changes the whole process when it comes to a potential child and how they will be raised.