Legal advice for choosing a sperm donor

Susan Goldberg, MA Author & Blogger, shares legal advice for same-sex couples who are looking to become pregnant using a sperm donor in order to protect themselves legally
Legal Advice For Choosing A Sperm Donor
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Legal advice for choosing a sperm donor

So people often ask, do you need a contract with the donor? Do you get a lawyer involved? What are the laws? All of those things. And that's just a huge question. I'm Canadian. Each province in Canada had different legislation when we were having our kids. In the States it's the same thing. Every state has a different set of laws. Those laws change a lot. It could depend on if you go to court, should that unfortunately happen. So a contract is a really complicated thing. On the one hand, it's a great thing to have because it sets out what each party involved intends to do. So if you say have two women and they both want to be the primary parents of this child and they'd like the donor to be not a parent but just a friend who helped out, that's great. They'd like him to say give up any rights he has to the child and make sure the non-biological mother can adopt. all of those kinds of things. Who can have the child at Thanksgiving. Anything from the very very tiny details like that in a parenting agreement right down to the legal, who has rights and who doesn't. And for that, because the laws in all these areas are so different and because they change all the time, I really do think that if you want to have a contract then you need to go to a lawyer who is a family lawyer, who is also really familiar with lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender law, who will understand what the issues are and what you might need to put into this agreement, and who can also tell you when you may or may not hold up in court and what the risks and the benefits are. Because sometimes contracts won't hold up in court depending on the legality of the situation. And that's another thing to keep in mind when you choose a known donor. If you go with a sperm bank, then you've got the legal protection of going with a sperm bank and that sperm donor has no legal right to the child. But if you have a known donor, then you open yourself up to a bit more risk. And risk isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is risk, and you have to keep that in mind.

Susan Goldberg, MA Author & Blogger, shares legal advice for same-sex couples who are looking to become pregnant using a sperm donor in order to protect themselves legally


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Susan Goldberg, MA

Author & Blogger

Susan Goldberg is a writer, editor, essayist and blogger, and coeditor of the award-winning anthology And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families. Her writing has been featured on the CBC and the Globe and Mail, in Ms., Lilith, and Stealing Time magazines, and several anthologies, including the forthcoming Chasing Rainbows: Exploring Gender-Fluid Parenting Practices. Susan is a contributing blogger at Today’ and In 2012, she was chosen as one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. She’s currently (always) working on a novel, called Step on a Crack, and on Overflow, a one-woman performance piece about lingerie and breast cancer. Susan lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with her partner and their two sons.

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