Advances in medical technology have made sperm and egg donations more common in recent years and allowed many people to become parents. However, they have also created new legal questions about whether sperm and egg donors have parental rights in these situations. Just as the medical techniques in this area are complicated, so too are the laws. If you're thinking of using donated sperm or eggs to have a child, speak to Attorney Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team to ensure you are protecting your parental rights.
Sperm Donation in New Jersey
New Jersey has a law that lays out who is considered a child's parent for legal purposes like custody and visitation—the Parentage Act. This law states that parentage can be established based on one of three factors: “gestational primacy” (that is, giving birth), “genetic contribution,” or adoption. In principle, this points toward sperm or egg donors potentially having parental rights. However, the law also states that if a married woman is artificially inseminated under the supervision of a doctor, with a written agreement signed by all parties (the mother, the donor, and the mother's husband), then her husband will be considered to be the child's legal father, even though he is not its genetic parent. In these situations, the sperm donor will have forfeited his parental rights.
The Limits of the Law
However, this still leaves some grey areas in New Jersey's laws. For example, in cases where a prospective mother chooses to impregnate herself with donated sperm without the supervision of a doctor, the sperm donor may be able to sue for parental rights. In New Jersey, the presence of a doctor is an important component of the donor relinquishing parental rights. Without that medical supervision, the law may not honor an agreement between the mother and the donor.
In addition, New Jersey's law may not extend this same presumption of parental rights to women who donate eggs. The law does not explicitly address this situation, and courts have struggled to address egg donations in different cases. The courts have also wrestled with questions related to surrogacy and same-sex couples, where application of the Parentage Act is less clear.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you're thinking of trying to have a child with donated sperm or eggs in New Jersey, it's important to speak to an experienced family law attorney to determine the best course of action to protect your parental rights and make sure your donor cannot try to sue for custody at a later time. Attorney Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm Family Law team can help you work through your situation and determine the best course of action. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online to set up a consultation today.
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