When a woman finds a donor through a sperm bank, she does not need a donor agreement. Typically called an unknown or known donor, this man will have signed an agreement with the sperm bank and surrendered any parental rights in the process. As a result, the woman does not have to worry that this man may later change his mind and try to claim that he is the father and deserves visitation or even custody of the child. Even if he does, there is little chance he will have any legal ground to stand on.
In contrast, when a woman wishes to become pregnant through a known donor, such as a friend or an acquaintance, there is a greater risk that the donor may later claim a parental relationship to the child. In such situations, attorneys highly recommend that a woman consult an attorney and that both she and the prospective donor sign a donor agreement before she begins the process of donor insemination. This agreement is designed to define the role and responsibilities, if any, the man will have with the child.
Generally speaking, there are two types of donor agreements: One that is used in counties or states where second-parent adoption is available, and one in counties or states where second-parent adoption is unavailable. Both forms are provided here with this difference between them: Where second-parent adoption is available, the agreement states that the donor agrees in advance to consent to the adoption by the second or nonbiological lesbian parent and agrees to the termination of all parental rights of his own. (Some states allow the donor to have some diminished role in the child's life, if requested and agreed upon.) Attorneys consider this the preferred agreement if the choice is available to you.
To find out if second-parent adoption is available in your area, see the second-parent adoption article.
Whichever form you use, it should be noted that this area of the law is extremely fluid, and it is difficult to predict whether a particular judge will honor such an agreement. In some situations, for example, men who have signed such agreements have later changed their minds, sought a parental role in the children's lives and judges have granted it - essentially declaring that they were the legal fathers, despite the agreement they signed with the mothers.
You also should note that donor insemination laws vary from state to state. For example, in some states, you are required to be under the care of a physician. Your attorney can tell you if this is required where you live.
- Sample Donor Agreement for States Where Second-parent Adoption is Available (PDF)
- Sample Donor Agreement for States Where Second-parent Adoption is Not Available (PDF)
Disclaimer: These sample legal documents are for informational purposes only and may or may not be valid in your particular state. They also may not include the particular provisions you need. We strongly recommend that you consult a competent family or estate planning attorney who is familiar with these issues. It is also important that you understand that the information and sample legal documents provided here in no way constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice.