The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Family law: Sperm donor is not father in eyes of the law

A sperm donor in Sydney, Australia has been denied the right to be legally recognised as his daughter's father and has been forced to have his name removed from her birth certificate.

The man had replied to a newspaper advert for a sperm donor placed by a lesbian couple who wished to conceive.

At the time of birth, in 2001, the mother and the father's names were put on the birth certificate, but now the mother's partner wishes her name to replace the father's name, despite having separated from the mother in 2006.

The ex-partner took the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to court, claiming that, as she still shared parental responsibilities, her name should be on the certificate to avoid "confusion with schools, hospitals and government departments".

Her case was successful and the court ordered that the father's name be removed from the birth certificate.

The father was devastated, stating that it was "a very bad day for fathers".

He said: "She's not my daughter as far as the law is concerned. The laws are totally inadequate; there are no laws to protect people like me."

Judge Stephen Walmsley, presiding, said:  "As (the sperm donor) concedes, there was no agreement before the birth that he would be on the register when he agreed to donate his sperm.

"I have considerable sympathy for (the man) - he has done what he considers has been his very best for the child."

Since April 2009, under UK law whether the sperm donor is the father or not depends on the circumstances of the child's conception.

If the child is conceived through a sperm-donor clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, then the mother's partner will always be the child's father or second parent.

If the child is conceived privately, through artificial insemination, and the mother is in a marriage or civil partnership, and the partner consents, then the partner will be the child's legal father or second parent.

If the child is conceived privately through artificial insemination and the mother is unmarried or not in a civil partnership the sperm donor is the legal father of the child.

A child can never have more than two legal parents under UK law, although there can be more than two people who have parental responsibility for a child.

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
Look at the HFEA website (HFEA)
Read about birth certificates and fertility treatment (FindLaw)
Find local family solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)