Legal Complications with Sperm Donation: What You Need to Know

Sperm donation is a life-changing prospect, giving couples who cannot conceive, or have difficulty conceiving, the opportunity to be parents. But, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. The laws and parental rights and responsibilities vary depending on which type of donor you use and how you chose to conceive.

Whether you are seeking a sperm donor or are considering donating—especially to someone you know—there are some legal issues you should consider before making a decision.

Types of Sperm Donors

There are two types of sperm donors:

  • Anonymous donors

These individuals donate sperm through a fertility clinic or sperm bank under the agreement that none of their personal details are revealed. Neither the parents nor the donor-conceived child can contact the donor, nor can the donor contact the donor-conceived child or their parents. Anonymous donors also do not have any parental rights or responsibilities for children produced from their sperm donation.

In some cases, donors can elect to have their information shared with the donor-conceived child after the child reaches a certain age—usually when paternity is no longer an issue. The specifics of discoverable donor options vary depending on the fertility clinic or sperm bank. 

From a legal standpoint, using an anonymous donor is the least complicated option for both donors and prospective parents.

  • Known donors

In some cases, parents may choose someone they know to be a sperm donor for their child. This gets a bit into the legal weeds. To ensure the donor's rights are wholly terminated, both parties must work with an attorney as early in the process as possible.  

Working with a family law attorney also ensures the donor agrees to certain conditions such as testing for sexually transmitted diseases or other medical issues. It can also protect against the risk of the donor seeking a relationship or custody of the donor-conceived child down the line. For sperm donors, it can protect against the risk of a parent seeking child support from the donor.

Consider where conception will occur 

Not all states require physicians to perform insemination procedures. Some permit at-home procedures. But, from a legal standpoint, it is best to have a physician involved. Inseminations done by licensed physicians are often given more protection than at-home ones.

In some states, if a physician doesn't do the insemination, the sperm donor's parental rights may not be terminated. 

North Carolina Family Law Attorneys

If you are considering using a sperm donor or considering donating sperm—especially to someone you know—it is in the best interest of both parties to work with a family law attorney who can guide you through the legal issues common with sperm donation. The attorneys at Caulder & Valentine are experts in family law and can help. If you live near the Shelby or Gastonia areas of North Carolina, give us a call at 704-470-2440 or contact us online. We can discuss your options and help you plan for the future.


Shelby Office
303 West Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150
704.754.8401 (fax)
Gastonia Office
316 S Chester St
Gastonia, NC 28052
704.754.8401 (fax)