Legalities of Using Donor Sperm

When you use donor sperm in order to get pregnant it can be done either at the doctor’s office or in the privacy of one’s household. Many women may worry about the legal issues that may accompany insemination, especially if the outcome is a positive pregnancy. There should not be any concerns about parental rights. In most cases, sperm is obtained from a sperm bank and the donor does not have access to the woman’s identity at any time, and he has already abrogated his rights. In some cases, couples select an individual that they know to donate sperm. In these cases, they can enlist the services of an attorney who will draft the appropriate papers to give the couple full custody, and terminate any parental rights of the donor.

If fresh sperm is used in a home setting, even if it is not through intercourse, the known donor is considered to be a legal parent of the child in the eyes of the law. Anonymous donors, on the other hand, legally give up parental rights and responsibilities to children conceived by their sperm specimens. Open Donors agree to one contact with offspring who makes the request through CCB after they turn 18. This is optional for the donor and the child. When donors select to be Open, it is a matter of “when” they will be contacted, not “if.” The difference between Open and Anonymous Donors is that Open donors are committed to one contact with any offspring resulting from their time as a donor. This contact takes place when any offspring conceived using the donor’s sperm reaches the age of 18 or older. At this time the child may contact the sperm bank and request contact with their donor. In turn, the sperm bank informs the donor of the request and assists him in arranging his contact with the child. The contact may be in the form of an email, letter, phone call or meeting in person; the type of contact is decided solely by the donor. Because of the extra time and commitment involved,

Open Donors are compensated upon qualifying for the program, and are usually paid $500 when they complete their final blood draw. Anonymous sperm donors, receive $100 per every usable specimen. Open donors are under no financial or legal obligation to support any children conceived using their sperm. Most sperm banks do not disclose the donor’s name, or any other identifying information to the clients or their children. The amount of personal information that the sperm donor chooses to disclose about himself at the time of contact with the child is at his discretion.

Most states have individual laws regarding a woman’s right regarding insemination. Florida law, confirmed by the courts, explicitly removes any parental rights from a donor.  The law strips a donor of any legal relationship to the child unless he is a member of the “commissioning couple” defined as an “intended father and mother.”  The advantages of using a sperm bank are that the semen has been tested and is disease free, there is more of an assortment of donors, the donor has no parental rights, and there is no waiting period.

There are many websites that can give you information on paternity when using a sperm donor or if you decide to co-parent. Sites where you can research about the legalities of sperm donation,

Here are some summary examples of the laws in a couple of states.  It’s important that you research the laws in your state so that you know your rights as a couple or a single parent when it comes to using a Sperm donor.

  • California: If you use the services of  a licensed fertility clinic then the sperm donor automatically loses all claims to the child.
  • Oregon: Same law as California.
  • Florida: Sperm donors’ rights/obligations to the child are relinquished, even if the insemination is not done through a licensed clinic.
  • Pennsylvania: Insemination performed outside a licensed clinic will mean the donor will automatically be considered the father of the child.
  • New York: Contracts regarding sperm donation between a couple and a donor are generally unenforceable, and the court will only look at the best interests of the child in determining the rights and duties of the donor.  If you conceive via home insemination your sperm donor will be the child’s legal father.  (With the passage of the same-sex marriage laws, this is subject to change now).



California Cryobank. CCB Open Donors. (2011). Retrieved from:

Human Rights Campaign. Donor Insemination. (2004). retrieved from:




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