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FAQs on new parenthood law

The law on legal parenthood following fertility treatment changed on 6 April 2009. Since then, it has been possible for the partner in a same sex couple to be registered as the second parent to a child born from licensed fertility treatment.

The new parenthood law did not affect heterosexual married couples or unmarried heterosexual couples using the partner’s sperm. These couples have always been automatically the legal parents of any child born. Nor did it affect single women using donor sperm.

However, the new law did affect the following types of patients:

  • female civil partners who are using donor sperm 
  • female couples not in a civil partnership who are using donor sperm
  • male same-sex couples planning surrogacy arrangements 
  • unmarried heterosexual couples using donor sperm


What clinics have to do

Couples affected by the parenthood law need to consent to parenthood, prior to treatment being provided, using consent forms at their clinic.

Besides making sure that the right patients sign the right consent forms, clinic should also:

  • offer counselling about the implications of receiving treatment following consent to parenthood, prior to treatment being provided. 
  • provide appropriate information to patients and their partners about the implications of consent to parenthood.
  • Notify patients or patient partners if consent to parenthood is withdrawn or changed.


What treatment the law affects

The law applies to patients undergoing any fertility treatment that involves the use of donor sperm, embryos created using donor sperm, or donor embryos. This includes donor insemination, IVF using donor sperm and GIFT using donor sperm.

However, different consents are required depending on whether the couple is married/in a civil partnership, or if the couple is not.

How the rules affect you and your partner will depend on your circumstances. This section gives answers to a number of general questions about parenthood: 

These sections give answers to questions about specific situations:

If you have a question that does not appear in these FAQs, ask your clinic or contact the HFEA.


Other sources of information

General Registry Offices:

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Page last updated: 15 December 2014

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