Donating sperm can be a selfless way to help a childless couple reach their dreams – but it can also be a legal nightmare as we’ve come to seen in recent months on the news. Massimiliano Gerina, a gay hairdresser, donated his sperm to a lesbian couple three years ago. He wanted to be a father, not just a donor – and this seemed liked the perfect opportunity.
Thousands of dollars in legal fees and years later, the trio is finally coming to an agreement that suits all three parents. Gerina’s daughter Emma now has two mums and a dad, and her birth certificate is proof of that. Gerina also gets weekly visits with his daughter, but Emma’s mums are her legal guardians and care providers.
When it comes to donating sperm – even to a friend – it’s important to know your rights. Jonathan West, the head of family law at Prolegal, argues that when you’re considering sperm donation (either as the recipient, or the donator), it’s important that you have private agreements in place with legal approval before commencing.
“To be clear,” West points out, “donors who donate through an HFEA licensed clinic have no legal or financial rights, or responsibilities for any child conceived with their sperm.” That’s because there is a contractual agreement in place governing the limitations of the donor’s rights. However, there is some confusion when a friend or acquaintance donates sperm outside of these clinics – like Gerina.
In January, a High Court Ruling was passed which now gives rights to male donors who would like some say in their biological children’s upbringing if no contractual agreement is in place. That means that if a man like Gerina donates his sperm to a lesbian or heterosexual couple, he is entitled to have some say in his child’s future.
“Sperm donation, either to a gay or a straight couple, is not to be taken lightly as the consequences last for the lifetimes of all involved.” West wrote. “It is essential all parties are agreed on how the arrangement stands. Being a donor can be extremely rewarding, but only if an established and legally robust agreement is in place to protect all involved.”
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