Assisted conception case study: who are the legal parents?

Kate and Emily entered into a relationship and after three years they decided that they wanted to start a family. They went to a UK licensed fertility clinic and with the use of a sperm donor Kate gave birth to Jack on 1st December 2016. Unfortunately Kate and Emily’s relationship broke down and Emily moved out of the family home. Emily wants to spend time with Jack but Kate is not in agreement and Emily is not sure what her rights are.

Legal parents

As the birth mother Kate is the first legal parent.

Emily will be Jack’s second legal parent provided that Emily and Kate gave their written consent to the UK licenced fertility clinic confirming that Emily is to be Jack’s legal parent. It can also be recorded on Jack’s birth certificate that Emily is his second legal parent. It does not matter that Emily does not have a genetic or biological link to Jack.

Emily should first try and agree with Kate the arrangements for her to spend time with Jack and consider mediation to assist in reaching an agreement. If an agreement still cannot be reached then Emily should apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order for her to spend time with Jack.

Conception by artificial insemination at home

It is important to note that the position would be very different if Kate and Emily had not used a UK licenced fertility clinic and instead Jack was conceived by artificial insemination at home with a friend donating their sperm. In this scenario, the sperm donor would be Jack’s legal parent and not Emily.

Stone King’s Family and Mediation Team can advise on families created through donor conception and surrogacy, as well as on co-parenting, adoption and fertility treatment.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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