A third party can aid in reproduction by becoming a sperm or egg donor. Here’s what to know about third-party reproduction laws in California.

California law does not recognize a sperm or egg donor as a parent unless they are married to the individual giving birth to the child. The rights of the donors, as well as both parents to the child, will be protected upon signing paperwork that signifies that all parties consented to assisted reproduction. As of January 1, 2016, these protections apply regardless of the marital status of the couple seeking to use third-party reproduction in California.

Related: Do I Need a Pre-Birth Order in California?

How to Approach Assisted or Third-Party Reproduction

Assisted reproduction introduces a third party, who will donate their sperm or eggs to help conceive a child. It is important to note that as of January 1, 2016, California courts recognize both donors and birth parent(s) as having parental rights if there is legitimate evidence to prove that the donor intended to act as a parent to the child. If the donor intends to be a parent to the child, or if they are married to the other prospective parent, they must indicate their wishes via a signed, written agreement. These terms must be mutually agreed upon between the donor and the birth parent(s) before any baby is conceived. If this does not occur, all parties involved risk the donor receiving parental rights that were not consented to. California Statutory Forms for Assisted Reproduction Form 2 and 3 protect the rights of both birth parent(s).

Related: Assisted Reproductive Laws in California

Is a sperm or egg donor a legal parent to the child?

Parental rights in California are determined by statute and the courts. If a couple or a single woman wants to have a child using a sperm donor and wishes that the donor does not have parental rights, the amended family law on January 1, 2016, provides information to help prevent donors from becoming legal parents.

Options to consider if a birth parent does not want their donor to be a parent to the child:

  • Use a medical doctor or sperm bank (which eliminates the option for the donor to be a legal parent via a doctor’s insemination to the parent),
  • All parties will sign a donor agreement prior to conception, or
  • An oral agreement in the absence of a written agreement (although a written agreement is strongly encouraged).

It is also important to note that there may be incidents where the donor will claim to be the parent to a child conceived by assisted reproduction. These rights can be taken away if the other parent (who is married to the child’s other biological parent) legally adopts the child.

Related: 7 Reasons Why Reproductive Rights Are Important

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If you or a loved one would like to know more information about third-party reproduction laws in California, get your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys today!