Parenting Arrangements for Lesbians and Gay Men

As an alternative to using a fertility clinic and sperm bank, some lesbians (and some other single women) ask a male friend to donate sperm so they can have children. Some want to save the costs of the fertility clinic, others like the idea of a male father figure for their child, the free child care or want to share parenting with a male friend. The understandings and discussions between the woman and the man can range from full co-parenting via unclear situations to those arrangements where the man simply acts as a private sperm donor. Unfortunately the law does not allow the woman and the man to enter into a binding contract. There are, however, ways around it depending on what you want your and the other biological parent’s rights to be.

  • full co-parenting where the child will live with one parent and frequently spend time with the other parent and both parents are financially contributing to the child’s costs
  • sperm donation only
  • something in between.

You also need to decide what rights and duties you expect:

  • Do you want the father to have a right to contact with the child?
  • Do you want the father to be financially responsible for the child?
  • Do you want the mother’s partner legally to be the child’s second mother?

If you want the mother’s partner to be the second mother of the child, the law depends on whether or not you use a clinic and whether or not you are married or civil partners. If she is not legally the second parent automatically, the only option is through adoption after the child has been born. Once the child has been adopted, any rights, duties and legal status the biological father may have had, will cease.

Find out how the law deals with co-parenting and paternity after sperm donations before you go any further.


18 May 2016 by Andrea Woelke