As a Family Law attorney practicing on Long Island, the increase in the use of artificial insemination to conceive a child has given rise to a unique legal issue wherein the biological father must renounce his rights and responsibilities with regard to the conceived child.
It is becoming increasingly common for families today to conceive children through artificial insemination from a sperm donor. This applies to not only heterosexual couples in which male fertility is an issue, but also with single women and lesbian couples. Although sperm banks are available to utilize an anonymous donor, some women prefer the use of an “informal sperm donor”, usually a male friend. In these types of situations, a Sperm Donor Agreement is essential in order to avoid tricky legal consequences down the line.
A Sperm Donor Agreement Can Protect All Parties from Future Litigation
A Sperm Donor Agreement is a written contract between the sperm donor and the recipient who will use the sperm for insemination. The purpose of this document is primarily to ensure that even though the sperm donor is the biological and genetic father, the agreement stipulates that he intends to sever his legal rights and responsibilities regarding the child. This means he will give up any rights to custody or visitation with the child, and will not have rights to make decisions about the child’s health or welfare. It also means that he will not be responsible for payment of child support, or any other care or support of the child.
Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney to Avoid Legal Issues in the Future
Because of the importance of these decisions, everyone involved should be in agreement about the details of the sperm donation arrangement. Unfortunately, in the excitement of planning for a new baby, some may not seek legal advice in order to create a detailed and enforceable sperm donor agreement that sets forth all expectations about the donor’s role. These agreements can help prevent future complications and disappointments caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding at the time the agreement took place.
Ensure You Spell Out All Terms in the Agreement
Especially when the donor is a friend who keeps contact with the recipient, he might reserve some expectation that, even though he will give up the role of the child’s father, he will have some relationship with the child throughout the child’s life. The donor may even have a special connection or relationship with the child, as the child may know from an early age that this person was a donor. On the other hand, there might be little to no contact with the child, or an agreement to keep the arrangement secret. Either way, it is clear that the donor and recipient should be on the same page.
Important Topics to Cover
It is important that the donor and recipient should negotiate and agree upon several different topics in order to form a comprehensive agreement. The agreement should address:
- Financial responsibility of the donor, if any
- Parenting rights of the donor, if any
- Expectations regarding the donor’s relationship and contact with the child
- Whether the child will know about the donation arrangement and that this person is the donor
- At what point in time will the child learn about the donor
- What the child will call the donor
Other Issues May Be Involved
Depending upon the unique circumstances of each case, other factors might come into play. This is why it is important to have a thoughtful discussion about your arrangement and also involve an experienced family law attorney. A professional can assist you with identifying and addressing any pitfalls that could potentially arise in your situation, making for smoother sailing in the process.
Protect Yourself Legally; Sperm Donor Agreements Can Be Challenged
Another recommendation for your arrangement is that you work with a donor that you trust. Even with a sperm donor agreement in place, it can be challenged later on. Although a well-planned agreement will prevent those challenges from ultimately being successful, these challenges can create stress and strife within your family. Think about this person in terms of whether he will have kids of his own in the future and how or whether that would affect his decision to remain detached from a parenting role in your child’s life. Also consider what might happen if this person happens to disagree with your parenting choices down the road. While this is not a failsafe approach to choosing a donor, they are considerations that are worthwhile to think about while you are making your decision.
Similarly, a donor should consider whether he feels that the birth mother is emotionally and financially stable, and will not later attempt to challenge the agreement and seek financial or other parenting assistance. Again, these are simply words to the wise.
Considering Artificial Insemination? Speak to an Experienced Long Island Family Law Attorney
If you are considering a sperm donor arrangement with someone you know, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. The law firm of Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C. can assist you with making sure your and your child’s rights are protected, and that you make fully educated decisions that will impact the rest of your lives. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.
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