Donor conception law for single mums

mum and babyThere are various different ways in which you might be building your family, including:

  • asking a UK fertility clinic to treat you with sperm (and eggs) from a registered donor
  • conceiving with the help of someone you already know
  • conceiving with the help of an overseas fertility clinic or sperm bank
  • using a donor-matching website to find a UK known donor or co-parent.

Who are the legal parents?
If you give birth to your child, you are the legal mother.  This is the case whether you conceive with your own eggs or donor eggs, and wherever in the world you conceive.  Find out more about legal motherhood.

Whether your child has another legal parent depends on your situation and how you conceive.  An egg donor will not be your child's legal parent, but a sperm donor/ co-parent might be.  Find out more about the legal parenthood of sperm donors and co-parents.

If you are considering starting a family by yourself but you are still married or in a civil partnership, take care.  The law says that your husband, wife or civil partner is the other legal parent of your child, unless you can 'show' that he or she does not consent to the conception.

Conceiving at a UK fertility clinic
If you conceive at a fertility clinic in the UK (whether with someone you know or an unknown donor), the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will regulate how things work, including the medical treatment and how donor sperm and eggs are used.  Details of your conception will be kept on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Register of Information.  You will be able to access non-identifying information about your donor (assuming he or she is not someone you already know), and about any donor-conceived siblings your child has in (up to ten) other families.  Once your child reaches the age of 18, your child might be able to ask for the donor's identity. Find out more about how donor conception treatment at fertility clinics is regulated.

Known donation and co-parenting arrangements

Conceiving with a known sperm donor (whether at a clinic or at home) gives you the opportunity to know more about the donor you choose, and allows you to facilitate a relationship between your child and his or her biological father.  The donor might be someone you already know, or someone you have found via a donor-matching website or advertisement.

It is important to be clear about what legal status your donor or co-parent will have (and his partner, if relevant), including who can be named on the birth certificate, and who will be legally and financially responsible for your child.  As you will have direct contact with your donor or co-parent, it is also important to think about what might happen if there is a dispute between you at a later stage.  Find out more about known donor disputes.  To help avoid problems later, it is sensible to build strong foundations at the outset, and to consider putting in place a pre-conception agreement.  Find out more about planning known donation and co-parenting arrangements.

The importance of a well-drafted will
It is always sensible to put in place a will when you start a family, but this is even more important if you are your child's sole legal parent.  Your will can nominate someone to care for your child in the event of your death, and can create appropriate trusts to look after your assets for your child until he or she is mature enough to receive them.


Have we answered your question? Would you like advice on your personal circumstances?

Email us at or call on 020 3701 5915 and we will explain how we can help.