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3 Ways Fertility Lawyers Can Help

Starting or growing your family using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) involving sperm, egg or embryo donation can have legal consequences for the future that you may not have considered at the time of donation. 

ART involves a lot of administrative work, consultations, and appointments before the process can begin. Financial and insurance arrangements also need to be made. Making the proper legal provisions to ensure the rights of donors, parents, and future children is extremely important. Whether you are a donor, recipient, surrogate, or adopting, ensure that you consult with a fertility lawyer to protect your rights and those of your future children. 

Fertility law is an area of family law that focuses on prospective parents, donors, surrogates and anyone else involved in adoption, reproduction and ART. Fertility lawyers are knowledgeable of the law governing the reproduction process and reproductive technology in Canada. They are familiar with the process of adoption, donation, and the use of surrogates. If you are considering any of these, here are three ways that a fertility lawyer can assist you. 

Assist with Information About the Process 

Once you make the decision to use ART, you’ll need to find a donor, and that’s not always easy. Finding egg and sperm donors in Canada can be challenging,   That’s because while egg and sperm donation is legal, paying for donating sperm, eggs, or embryos is not permitted. Donor banks have difficulty recruiting donors and often intended parents look to the United States. It is also illegal in Canada to pay someone to arrange the services of a surrogate.  

Because of the law in Canada, using a sperm or egg donor who you know has become more common. While there isn’t a requirement to do so in all circumstances, a fertility lawyer will generally recommend that you have a donor agreement in place before the donation. This is required where the donation of sperm is by sexual intercourse.

Guide You Through the Process

A donor agreement makes clear the terms of the donation and whether or not the donor can have any claim of parentage in the future. Some Canadian provinces, including Ontario, have made changes to their parentage legislation to reflect that donor is not a parent despite their genetic connection. Still, a donor agreement making clear the intentions and wishes of all parties involved is a more secure plan. Most clinics that facilitate donation will insist on donor agreements, especially if the donor is known. 

Navigating the process of ART can be confusing. The fees can be substantial for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and for using a surrogate. However, there are only certain expenses involved in adoption, donation, and surrogacy allowed by law. Genetic material cannot be purchased, however, some of the donor’s expenses can be covered. Which expenses, how much, who can be paid and who handles the transactions is not always clear. Therefore, having a fertility lawyer assist you throughout the process is recommended. 

Embryo donation is another area of fertility law that can be murky. Some couples choose to donate embryos left unused after IVF rather than disposing of them or donating to medical research. In this case, a donor agreement is essential to specify the right of the donors as well as the recipients. The agreement may also make provisions for the extent of the future child’s right to contact donors in the future.  

Ensuring Privacy of Donors, Children, Siblings

Making connections between donors and children is a decision that warrants a lot of thought before entering into a donor agreement. As a donor, you may choose not to be contacted by any children that result from your donation, or you may be open to it. Parents should consider whether their children may wish to contact a donor, biological parent or any siblings in the future. A fertility lawyer can walk you through the decision-making process and explain the implications of your decision whether you are open to future contact or wish to remain anonymous.  

Kelly Jordan, our fertility lawyer, can help you negotiate agreements and contracts that protect you, your rights and the rights of all the parties involved in the fertility and reproduction process. Contact us today.