In the first of our Free Legal Advice Clinics, we get a question about sperm donation after he donated his to a lesbian couple 10 years ago, who is now worried about his legal rights. Matt Parr answers your questions.
I am really concerned after reading about a man in the papers who donated sperm to a lesbian couple some years ago who is now being chased by the CSA who is demanding he pay towards the child’s upbringing, even though he’s not on the child’s birth certificate. I’m in a similar situation. I donated sperm to a couple 10 years ago – and I’m wondering if they have any rights to make me pay for their child. I’ve never met the child and I’m no longer in the couples’ life as I moved towns a few years back. My name isn’t on the birth certificate and I’ve not been a part of the child’s life at all. If they wanted to, could they get in contact with the CSA and make me pay?
Are there any legal protections for men like me?
Paul in Leicester
The answer to this question is dependant on whether you donated the sperm through a registered Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA)-licensed clinic; if you did then you are not financially liable for the child, nor do you have any parental responsibility for the child. If this is the case, the birth mother will be the legal Mother and her Civil-Partner will be the “second legal parent” (but not “Mother” as the law does not allow a person to have two legal “Mothers”).
If you donated the sperm without using a (HFEA)-licensed clinic as an intermediary (such as an informal agreement between friends or through an internet agency) then you would be deemed to be the child’s legal father (whether or not you are named on the birth certificate) and would be obliged to financially support the child as necessary. Ultimately, the child’s Mother may be able to bring a successful claim through the Child Support Agency (CSA).
If you feel that it is likely action will be taken against you, it is best to be pro-active. In my experience the CSA “like a tryer” and the worst thing you could do would be to bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Sometimes a simple offer of some contribution towards the maintenance of the child will avoid often lengthy, expensive court proceedings. I would advise however that you seek the advice of a specialist Solicitor in this area who would be much better placed to give you a clearer picture of your obligations.
This response is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Individuals should always seek legal advice from a professional which is specific to their unique set of circumstances.
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