Do Sperm and Egg Donors Have Parental Rights in Florida?

Parent and child walk along a train platform.

When considering the methods of formulating a family, you may have invested some time and research in the medical procedures of in vitro fertilization or surrogacy involving sperm or egg donors. With the advances in the medical field, these procedures have become easier to come by and a common method to bringing a child into the world. However, with the medical advancements the law has equitable regulations on these procedures, and the parental rights of those involved. If you are considering becoming a donor, or you are considering using donated genetic material ensure you fully understand the obligations and parental rights of each party involved by discussing the procedures with your knowledgeable child custody attorney.

Florida is one of the more progressive states with regard to the donation of eggs, sperm, embryos, and surrogacy. However, there are certain items that are critical to ensure parental rights are provided to the appropriate parties. Under Florida Statute 742.12, “The donor of any egg, sperm, or preembryo, other than the commissioning couple or a father who has executed a preplanned adoption agreement under s. 63.213, shall relinquish all maternal or paternal rights and obligations with respect to the donation or the resulting children. Only reasonable compensation directly related to the donation of eggs, sperm, and preembryos shall be permitted.” Therefore, when a party donates their genetic material, they are presumptively waiving any parental rights and obligations to a child that may result from their donation.

Although the law seems clear as to the waiver of rights, there are a few methods in which this presumption of removal of parental rights by a donor may be overcome. If you are a donor, that wishes to retain parental rights you will need to execute a preplanned adoption agreement. This agreement will establish the medical procedure to be used, the intent to parent the child, and essentially adopt the child after it is born and relinquishes the rights of the birth parent instead of the donor. These are similar to surrogacy contracts.

Further, even though the law states that absent a preplanned adoption agreement, rights to a resulting child are waived by donors, the court has recognized that if the donor and carrier are romantically involved or have a close personal relationship there may be parental rights implied on the donor. In these cases, the donor is classified as a “known donor” and further steps must be taken in order to relinquish the parental rights to the child. With a known donor, a written agreement should be entered between the parties clearly defining the rights of each party involved. The agreement can determine the parental rights or waiver of the same for each donor. Further, the agreement can address the intention of the parties to remain in contact with one another even if parental rights are waived to the resulting child. However, these contracts must be drafted in proper legal form to be enforceable in the eyes of the law, therefore, seek the aid of a lawyer to ensure you are protected.

Bringing a child into the world is one of the most exciting experiences in a parent’s life. However, when you involve medical procedures, and third parties, it will be imperative to understand your rights as well as the rights of the third parties. Ensure you are protected and employ the assistance of a custody attorney during this process.

Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at (800) 822-5170 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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