The Fine Line in Embryo Donation Laws in the UK

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The Fine Line in Embryo Donation Laws in the UK

When an unmarried couple from the U.K. conceived a child thanks to a donated embryo in a clinic in Spain, the intention was that both of them would be the child’s parents. And, when their daughter was born, both the woman who gave birth to the child and her male partner’s names were added to the birth certificate as parents. When the couple subsequently separated and the woman sought child support from her former partner, he claimed he didn’t owe any financial responsibility because he was not the child’s parent. Because of provisions in the U.K.’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA), the court sided with him.

This result is shocking; had the couple adopted a child, the father would not have been able to successfully claim a lack of parentage. Similarly, if the donor embryo and fertility treatments had come from a clinic in the U.K., he would have also likely been deemed the child’s parent under the HFEA. Because the child was conceived using a donated embryo and fertility treatments outside the U.K., however, the HFEA’s provisions that would have otherwise made the man the child’s legal father simply didn’t apply.

British assisted reproduction laws require intended parents to complete a form called “Form PP” which establishes both parents’ parentage. Ultimately, the Spanish reproductive clinic did not have the parents complete this form, and they apparently didn’t work with a reproductive rights attorney who could have helped ensure the father’s parentage was established. The couple, who chose the Spanish fertility clinic on their doctor’s recommendation, ultimately both sought the determination of non-parentage, after the mother’s child support claims were denied.
If you intend to start or add to your family through assisted reproduction, it is important to work with a knowledgeable reproductive rights attorney who can help protect your rights and interests, as well as your future child’s rights and interests. Our team of experts will carefully listen and tailor a comprehensive family-building plan to your specific wishes and needs. After a review of your assisted reproduction needs, we will draft any requisite contracts, provide you with a thorough legal consultation to explain the contract terms, and finalize your parental rights, if necessary. Contact us today to learn more!