Do Sperm and Egg Donors Have Parental Rights in New Jersey?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

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.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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