Many single women are now choosing to conceive as solo mothers, whether through licensed clinics or through informal arrangements with friends or known sperm donors.
Conceiving with a sperm bank donor
If you conceive with a sperm bank donor through a licensed clinic, your donor is not the legal father and you are your child’s only legal parent at birth. When you register the birth, your name is recorded on the long birth certificate as your child’s mother, and the father’s details section are simply left blank.
If your child was conceived after 1991, he or she, as an adult, has rights to find out information about the donor, and about any genetic half-siblings conceived by other families using the same donor. Find out more about information rights following sperm donation.
Conceiving with a known donor or co-parent
If you conceive with a friend, known donor or co-parent, the legal position is more complex. Find out more about known donation and co-parenting.
If you are considering starting a family through donor conception by yourself, but you are still married, take care. The law provides that the husband of a married woman who conceives through artificial insemination is the legal father of her child; this could give your husband status as your child’s legal father. If you are conceiving with a licensed sperm bank donor, this could mean that you are not your child’s only legal parent. If you are conceiving with a co-parent, this could exclude the status of your child’s natural father.
If you want to start trying to conceive while you are still married, consider how to handle matters with your husband, and whether you want to put in place legal paperwork to help to protect you against any possible future dispute. Contact us for further advice.
Only conceptions that take place at licensed clinics in the UK are recorded by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), giving your child, in later life, the right to find out more about your donor and any other donor-conceived children conceived with his sperm. Conceptions with donor sperm that take place outside the UK are not recorded by the HFEA, so conceiving abroad can limit your child’s ability to find out information about your donor in later life.
Conceiving with donor eggs
If you are conceiving with donor eggs, you (as the carrying mother) are treated as your child’s legal mother for all purposes. The law provides that a woman who carries a child is the legal mother.
The importance of a well-drafted will
Always put a will in place when you start a family, but if you are your child’s sole legal parent, it is even more important. Your will can nominate someone to care for your child in the event of your death, and can create appropriate trusts to look after your assets for your child until he or she is sufficiently mature to receive them.
How we can help
Contact us if you would like us to:
- Advise you on how the law applies
- Help you to manage the legal position if you are still married
- Explain the legal position of your donor or co-parent
- Help you to put in place a donor agreement, or to manage a co-parenting arrangement
- Represent you in any dispute with a known donor or co-parent
- Prepare a will for you.
Going solo: fertility treatment options and the law for women starting a family on their own - Bionews article by Natalie Gamble, 29 March 2009