A Legal Foundation For Your Family

Do sperm donors have rights or responsibilities under the law?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Assisted Reproduction

Sperm donors play an integral role in assisted reproduction. There are many scenarios in which people require donated mobile gametes to add a new member to their families. Lesbians may use donor sperm to begin a pregnancy. Single women and married heterosexual couples where the man has reproductive health challenges may also require donor sperm to fertilize eggs.

Some people arrange for donations from people they know. Many others go to specialized facilities that have donor materials on hand, as well as information about the men who donated available sperm. Such systems offer the ability to select for ideal genetic traits and the protection that comes from working with a professional medical facility.

If the use of a sperm donor’s genetic material results in a successful pregnancy, people may eventually have questions about what that means for him and the newly-expanded family. Does the man who donated those materials have any legal responsibilities or rights related to any child conceived from his genetic material?

Minnesota law clearly addresses this issue

Some areas of assisted reproduction are so new that there is no significant legal guidance on the matter. Lawmakers have yet to address certain issues, and the courts may not have had any major rulings on specific types of assisted reproduction conflicts yet.

However, sperm donation has been medically possible for decades. Minnesota actually has an existing statute addressing what happens when a man provides mobile gametes for assisted reproduction. State law specifically says that while the man may have a biological relationship to the child produced, he has no legal claim to paternity. He would not be able to seek custody or visitation rights.

Additionally, the parents who use someone’s donated sperm will not be able to demand child support or other forms of parental responsibility from the man who donated sperm to make their reproduction possible. The husband of a married woman using donor sperm will be the legal father, and the state will include his name on the child’s birth certificate.

The only exceptions to this statute would be scenarios in which people negotiate contracts that grant a known sperm donor specific rights. There is, therefore, very little risk involved in acquiring donor genetic materials when beginning an attempt at assisted reproduction.