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Family Forum – Home insemination poses legal questions

A Family Forum reader asks for help with trying for a baby in her late 30s. Read on…

Question:

I am a single woman in my late 30s trying for a baby using IVF and donor sperm. After several failed attempts, I was wondering if I should give up. Then a good friend offered her husband’s sperm for at home insemination and he agreed to help out. How should we proceed?

Answer:

Trying for a baby whether naturally, via IVF or other assisted reproductive technologies can be an emotional and confusing time. It is ultimately up to you how you chose to proceed but there are several factors you may wish to take into consideration. Irrespective of whether you chose at home insemination (which does not require intercourse) or insemination with the assistance of an appropriately qualified clinic, you should consider obtaining counselling both separately and with your friend and her husband. In the counselling you will be guided to discuss topics such as the dynamic of your relationship in the future, what level of involvement your friend and her husband will have with any child or children born from the arrangement, and how you all envision any child or children will relate to the child or children of your friend. They will also discuss with you the potential impacts upon your relationship with your friend given the agreement you have reached.

You should also obtain legal advice regarding the potential estate planning, child support and family law implications. These topics will be likely to include who will be registered on the birth certificate, what should happen if your friend’s husband attempts to be more actively involved in the child or children’s life after birth, the potential child support implications, and potential claims that the child or children may have on your friend’s husband estate. A lawyer should also be able to assist you in preparing an agreement for you, your friend and your friend’s husband to sign or to review an agreement prepared by a clinic as discussed below.

You may also wish to involve a clinic to provide screening prior to insemination (either at home or through the clinic), to ensure that your husband’s friend does not have any health concerns or sexually transmitted infections that could affect the health of you or your potential child. A clinic should also be able to provide you with or refer you to counselling services. The clinic may also be able to store your eggs fertilised with the genetic material provided by your husband’s friend, to provide you with greater options in the future if you wish to have additional children. Some clinics can also prepare draft sperm donor agreements for you to take away to discuss with your lawyer.

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Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

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