Embryo donation is an incredible process that has given many people the opportunity to experience pregnancy and give birth to a child. We are here to handle all the legal aspects of embryo donation on your behalf so that you can focus all your time and energy on preparing for the safe arrival of your baby.
At Crisp & Co, our expert embryo donation and adoption solicitors can provide all the advice you need about having a child via embryo donation and embryo adoption (or conditional embryo donation). We can also provide advice to people who want to donate embryos they no longer need after completing their own family through IVF treatment to enable other couples to have their own children.
While this is an exciting time, it is still essential to consider the legal implications of having a child via embryo donation. That’s what our team of friendly, pragmatic solicitors are here to help. We will provide detailed advice about matters such as:
- The different methods of embryo donation – through a licensed clinic or a private arrangement
- Legal parenthood:
- How your circumstances will affect who is recognised in law as the ‘legal parents’ of the child
- Taking steps to ensure that you and your partner are both legally recognised as the parents of your child
- Parental responsibility:
- How this differs from ‘legal parenthood’
- How your circumstances will affect who automatically gets parental responsibility
- Taking steps to ensure both you and your partner get parental responsibility
We regularly work with opposite sex couples, same sex couples who want to start or expand their family. We aim to create a warm, welcoming environment for every individual whether you identify as straight, cisgender or LGBTQIA.
Why consult a family law solicitor about embryo donation?
The rules on embryo donation are extremely complicated so seeking the advice of a specialist family law solicitor is essential. It is also advisable to seek counselling before going ahead with treatment and if you go through a clinic, they will usually help you arrange this.
The laws surrounding parenthood and children born through fertility treatments in the UK can be found under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The rules differ depending on factors like:
- Whether the treatment took place in a clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or through a private arrangement
- The marital status of the parents
- Whether adequate consent was given to the treatment
In general, biological parenthood and legal parenthood are not the same; that is how someone can be recognised as the parent of a child born using a donated embryo. A specialist embryo donation solicitor can help you ensure that all the legal aspects of donation have been properly taken care of, removing any risk that you do not have the legal rights you need to raise your child.
For more general information about becoming the legal parents of a child born through fertility treatment, visit our Fertility Solicitors page.
What is embryo donation?
When someone has IVF treatment, they often freeze more embryos than they end up using. Once they have completed their family they can usually choose whether to discard the embryos or donate them to someone who also wants to start a family.
There are many reasons why someone might choose to have a baby via embryo donation, including:
- If fertility treatments using their own embryos have not worked
- They have a medical condition that would likely be passed on to any biological child
- They would simply prefer to use a donated embryo
In many cases, embryo donation means the mother can have the experience of pregnancy and childbirth that they would not get if they used another method such as adoption.
Is embryo adoption available in the UK?
Embryo adoption or ‘conditional embryo donation’ is when the donor screens candidates and chooses who receives their embryos. In many cases the donor stays in contact with the child and the recipient parents.
Embryo adoption originally emerged in the USA; other countries such as New Zealand also have forms of embryo donation. In the UK, embryo donation is not typically available. When someone donates their embryos through a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority licensed clinic, they usually have no say in who receives it and there is no contact between the donor and whomever receives the embryos.
However, embryo adoption is legal in the UK. The law allows for donation between donors and recipients who know each other and donors are allowed to place some conditions on who uses their embryos (although under equality laws, they cannot discriminate on grounds such as gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation).
In some circumstances, the donor and recipient may decide to enter into a co-parenting agreement which sets out the role the donor will have in the child’s life. However, these agreements are not legally binding nor do they place a legal responsibility on the donor to take up their role in raising the child or contribute to them financially.
If you are interested in embryo adoption, it is important to seek specialist legal advice because the laws surrounding legal parenthood and the challenges associated with co-parenting agreements are particularly complicated. We can provide detailed advice on this type of arrangement, ensuring that you are fully aware of your legal rights and minimising the risk of any future dispute arising.
If you are thinking about donating your embryos after completing your own fertility treatment, we can provide advice about the legal implications, including:
- Who the legal parents of any children resulting from your embryos would be
- Advice about donating through a private arrangement (outside of a HFEA licensed clinic)
- Advice about taking a role in any resulting child’s life
It is important to remember that since 2005, embryo donation is no longer anonymous. Once any resulting children reach adulthood, they are entitled to find out the donor’s identity. If you have concerns about this, we can provide advice about your legal rights.
Why choose our embryo donation solicitors?
Crisp & Co is a specialist family law firm that provides bespoke advice to individuals across the UK. As we focus solely on family law, we can provide the highest quality of advice based on decades of practical experience. Our goal is to help families find positive, constructive resolutions to even the most complex of issues. Several of our team are members of Resolution, a network of legal professionals dedicated to this cause.
We are members of the Law Society Family Law Advanced Accreditation in recognition of our skills in the most complex family law matters. We have also received the Lexcel legal practice quality mark for delivering high standards of client care, compliance and legal practice management. We are regularly assessed to maintain these Accreditations.
Whether you simply need advice about your legal rights or you need us to take action on your behalf, we are here to ensure that you have the best possible chances of achieving the outcome you need.