What is Legal Parenthood and why is it important?
A woman who gives birth to a child in the UK is recognised as the legal mother/parent.
Under UK law, the semen donor is not considered be the legal father of any child born following the use of his sperm and as such, does not have any legal, financial or parental responsibilities towards the resultant child or children.
It is important before you embark on treatment using donor sperm, that you are fully aware of the legal implications according to your own personal circumstances, and the choices you make for you, your partner, and any prospective child.
Implications for Married Couples seeking treatment with donor sperm or embryos created in vitro using donor sperm
Where a married woman is seeking treatment using donor sperm from a HFEA licensed fertility centre her husband will be deemed to be the father of any child born as a result of that treatment unless he specifically does not consent to the treatment. The husband is required to complete HFEA consent form PP to confirm that he does not object to this. If the husband does not wish to be the legal parent of any child resulting from treatment, he must inform us and complete consent form WC.
Implications for those in a Civil Partnership seeking treatment with donor sperm or embryos created in vitro using donor sperm
Following the HFE Act of 2008, the civil partner of the woman who gives birth will be recognised as the legal second parent, unless she explicitly states that she does not consent to the treatment. The civil partner is required to complete HFEA consent form PP to confirm that she does not object to this. If the civil partner does not wish to be the legal parent of any child resulting from treatment, she must inform us and complete consent form WC.
Implications for Unmarried Couples and Same Sex Couples who are not in a Civil Partnership
You do not have to be married or in a Civil Partnership in order to for the woman’s partner to be recognised as a child’s legal father or second parent, but you must ensure that you and your partner sign the right consents.
For a heterosexual couple who are not married, both partners must consent to the man being the father of the child in order for him to be legally recognised as such.
For a same-sex couple who are not in a civil partnership, both partners will need to consent to the woman who will not give birth being the child’s second parent, in order for her to be legally recognised as such.
The woman planning to carry the child must complete consent form WP and the partner wishing to be the father or second parent must complete consent form PP.
Implications for Single Women who wish to have treatment using Donor Sperm
You do not have to have a partner to be treated with donor sperm. If you have treatment at Cambridge IVF or any other HFEA licensed unit, you will be treated as your child’s only parent and the donor will have no legal rights or responsibilities.
Implications for those Seeking Treatment with a Known Donor
It is possible for a woman to be inseminated by a known donor in a HFEA licensed unit, and we are happy to provide this treatment here at Cambridge IVF.
The same law regarding fatherhood applies to all sperm donors, whether known to the recipient or not. In other words, provided the sperm donation and treatment occurs through a licensed clinic such as Cambridge IVF, the donor is not considered the legal father of any children that may result from treatment.
Seeking legal advice
Finally, in some cases, it may be useful to seek independent legal advice regarding legal parenthood and how the law would apply to your specific case. This is probably not required if your situation is clearly covered by the law, and may only be needed if you are not married or in a civil partnership and seeking treatment with donor sperm. In this case, legal advice may help you ensure that your wishes are correctly recorded before your treatment starts.
Withholding or Withdrawing Consent to legal parenthood
For both civil partners and married couples using donor sperm in their treatment, if the husband or civil partner explicitly states that they do not give consent to their partner’s treatment, they may do so at any time up to the time of insemination or embryo transfer.
This can be done by completing form WC which can be provided for you. If however, you do not have access to this form, you may withdraw consent in writing, stating the partner’s name and making it clear that you are withdrawing consent to treatment.
If consent is withdrawn, the woman receiving donated sperm will be informed of this and will not be treated until this has been done.
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Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/
Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151