As medical technology has advanced, more and more prospective parents in Pennsylvania—both single parents and married couples— are able to use sperm or egg donors to have children. This allows them to have the children they have always wanted but may not otherwise have been able to have. But can the egg or sperm donor later seek custody of the child?
In Pennsylvania, genetics is the main determinant of who is considered a child's legal parent and who has parental rights. That means that, in the absence of a legal agreement stating otherwise, a sperm or egg donor can seek custody of their child.
This has been demonstrated in several court cases around the country. Courts have often leaned toward granting parental rights to sperm or egg donors who seek joint custody or a role in their child's life.
What Prospective Parents Can Do
If you are a prospective parent thinking of using a sperm or egg donor to have a child, consider taking steps to protect your parental rights. It's important to have a legal agreement in writing that lays out the child custody arrangement you want to have with your egg or sperm donor. Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team can help you craft this type of agreement that will protect you and your child in the future.
If you are using a sperm or egg bank, donors usually sign agreements stating that they forfeit their parental rights and will not seek custody of any children resulting from their donations. However, if you are pursuing a private arrangement—such as asking a friend to donate sperm—it is vital to work with a lawyer and get an agreement in writing that lays out who will have custody of the child and who will have financial responsibility for him or her.
Couples who are using a sperm or egg donation may also wish to consider having their partner-parent, who is not genetically related to the child, legally adopt him or her. This can give that parent more legal standing, especially if the couple later divorces.
What If I Am a Sperm or Egg Donor?
If you are considering donating eggs or sperm to help someone have a child, think carefully about the role you want to have in the child's life, if any. Have an honest conversation with everyone involved with the pregnancy and try to formalize your thoughts in a legal agreement. And keep in mind that your mind might change once the child is born—you might feel differently about the role you want to play in the life of a baby you helped bring into the world. If necessary, you can pursue legal action after the child is born by contacting Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team for help in this complex area of Pennsylvania family law.
Just as medical technology has grown leaps and bounds in the area of fertilization and impregnation, so too has the law in this area changed in recent years. It's important to work with a skilled and experienced family law attorney to ensure that your parental rights are protected. Call 888-535-3686 or contact us online to set up a consultation with the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team today to discuss the right steps to take for your situation and your prospective child.