Who needs to consent to legal parenthood?
If you give birth to a child, you’re automatically their mother and legal parent. If you’re married or in a civil partnership before fertility treatment with donated sperm or embryos, your partner will also automatically be the legal parent unless they do not consent to the treatment.
However, if you’re not married to, or in a civil partnership with, your partner, they won’t automatically be the legal parent unless you both consent before treatment (before the sperm is inseminated or the embryo is transferred) This applies even if you are in a female same sex relationship and your partner is donating her eggs to you for your treatment.
It also applies if you are not in a relationship but have decided to co-parent with someone. If the other person is related to you then you should take legal advice as they may not be able to be a legal parent.
If you’re a single woman looking to parent on your own, you do not need to consent to legal parenthood if you’re having treatment with sperm which has been donated at a UK-licensed clinic; if you give birth to any children you’re automatically the mother and the donor has no legal rights or responsibilities to your children.
There is a lack of clarity in the law regarding the parenthood status of a man who donates embryos, created with his sperm for he and his partner’s treatment, to a recipient who is single and will be parenting alone. We would therefore advise that before starting treatment, single women who are planning treatment with donated embryos should take legal advice regarding the status of the man whose sperm was used to create the embryos that will be used in their treatment.
Sperm donation and the law: for patients
If you’re legally married or in a civil partnership but have ended the relationship and plan to have fertility treatment with someone else it is very important that you inform your clinic about your situation so that they can ensure that all the relevant consents are recorded.