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What are the requirements to be a sperm donor in Texas?

Sperm donors can assist individuals and families who would like to conceive a child but are, for various reasons, unable to produce sperm that can lead to a successful pregnancy. There are several reasons why a person's sperm may not be viable or of lower quality. The age of the man, diseases he may suffer from as well as lifestyle choices and factors can all lead to his sperm being not of the quality needed to conceive a child. As a result, a sperm donor can impact the lives of these people positively. 

What is the process involved in sperm donation?

When a man presents themselves as a donor for sperm he will need to be evaluated based on a few different types of criteria. First, the man must be under the of forty. Second, he must not have any diseases that can be passed through the donation of sperm. There must not be a history of genetic disorders in the man’s family that could compromise the donation of his sperm. If these criteria are passed, then a semen sample could be provided that would be analyzed for its viability. Semen is stored frozen and must be able to survive the freezing and thawing process. Semen is stored for six months in a frozen state before use. 

After the semen is stored for six months then a semen donor would be re-evaluated for disease purposes before the sperm is available for use. A potential parent can then choose from semen donators on an anonymous basis. Typically attributes of the donor such as interests, characteristics, and other components are made available to parents who may be interested in learning more about the donation process. Once a donor is selected by a potential parent, the sperm is frozen and then the process to utilize the sperm is begun.

What is a Sperm Donor Agreement?

This is the basic information that is utilized by sperm donors and the potential recipient of donor sperm in Texas. A Sperm donor agreement will help put into writing who the parents are of your child on a legal basis. These are important to implement in a situation where a sperm donor is used- whether you are a single woman or a couple who cannot conceive or bear a child naturally. 

A doctor must help with the artificial semination process for the State of Texas to recognize someone as a sperm donor and not the legal parent to the future child. This is a critical distinction to make. If this process is not followed correctly and the steps are not taken to ensure that a valid sperm donation process and clinic are utilized, you may run into a situation where you as a sperm donor legally become the father to a child that you thought was not going to be any responsibility of yours. That is why a sperm-donor agreement can be so important when distinguishing a sperm donor and a parent. The prospective parent(s) should have conservatorship rights and duties concerning a child, not the sperm donor.

What you need to keep in mind is that your intent when it comes to sperm donation and how to use sperm from a sperm donor, the laws in Texas, and the various assisted reproduction methods that are available using medical science can and often will create a complicated situation for you and your family. You may have the best of intentions when it comes to artificial means of reproduction but if you do not follow the law in Texas those good intentions may not amount to very much. With that said, there is a good way for you to best ensure that the law is followed, and your family is set up for future success- to utilize the legal services provided by the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. If you have questions about anything you read in today’s blog post please contact our office for a free-of-charge consultation. 

At the end of the day, what you want to see happen is for the sperm donor to remain a sperm donor and not be assigned legal paternity rights. This would put you (either as the donor or recipient) and the child at risk of being in a messier situation than need be. There is a definition of "sperm donor" that can be found in the Texas Family Code. This is the standard that you need to follow to ensure that the sperm donor does not become the legal father to your child. Specifically, the Family Code defines a sperm donor as someone who provides sperm to a licensed physician for assisted reproductive purposes. Before you set to pick a sperm donor or even contract with someone that you know, there needs to be a doctor who is licensed in this area of medicine who can get between the two of you. 

It is not difficult to ensure that you and your spouse are provided the intended rights concerning your prospective child. You just need to know the law and know what path to take in this process. A sperm donor agreement is intended to act as a supplemental tool to help protect the rights of parents. It is not intended to be the only method utilized by you and your spouse in attempting to conceive a child artificially. Rather, you still need to go through a licensed physician or clinic in attempting to conceive a child. You can use a sperm donor agreement to further strengthen the already strong foundation that you have laid by going through the appropriate channels and physician to get to this point. 

In some situations, you as a prospective mother may prefer an at-home insemination. In that case, you can look to sperm donor agreement to distinguish between the rights of a parent and the rights of a sperm donor concerning the child. What you want to minimize is the risk of the sperm donor becoming a legal father to your child under any circumstances. If this is the method that you choose to utilize in your situation there is no guarantee that the court will view the donor as simply a donor and not the father to the child. 

How to create your sperm donor agreement

Now that you are aware of what a sperm donor agreement seeks to accomplish, you probably have some questions about what goes into a sperm donor agreement. First, who will be the intended parents of the child who is conceived because of artificial insemination? Remember that the sperm donor agreement is a "legal" agreement in the sense that it intends to confer paternity rights on two people and restrict them from another person, but it is not the same thing as an adjudication or order in paternity from a district court which contains a judge's signature. Therefore, it can establish your intentions and beliefs as to the transaction that is about to occur (if you want to call it that). 

In most situations, there are two or three people involved in the sperm donation and artificial insemination process. There is a sperm donor, a mother, and the mother's partner- often a spouse. The sperm donor would be noted as being only the donor and not a parent. You as the mother and your spouse would be the parents of the child that resulted from the artificial insemination process. This should be clear from how you draw up the agreement what you intend the roles of each person to be. Having an attorney draft this agreement is a great idea. You want the language utilized to be as clear as possible when it comes to the agreement so there is no question as to what the status of the situation is as far as parental roles. 

Next, you should specify where the insemination took place. It may come up that the location of the insemination is relevant given the laws in different states are different regarding the artificial insemination process as well as parental rights. Be clear about what location the insemination occurred in.

Depending upon the situation that you find yourself in, you may not want the sperm donor to have any relationship with your child in the future. This is the case when you go to a doctor's office or clinic that specializes in this type of procedure. You can select an anonymous donor whose semen will be used to help you conceive a child. Even if you know the donor personally you probably do not want him to play a role in the life of the child after the fertilization process takes place- at least in a legal sense. You can use the sperm donor form to specify the desired role for every person involved in the sperm donation and fertilization process. 

The form becomes much stronger when you can have the sperm donor specify who he is, what their relationship is with you (if any), and what their intended role in the life of the child is after the child is born. Clearly stating that the donor does not want to play a part in the child's life and does not intend to pursue parental rights is the best thing that he can specify. A short-written statement that can be notarized may well be the best way to go about getting this in writing. An oral statement that is recorded may be better than nothing but when it comes to evidence to provide to a court in the future a written statement is best. 

A question that our attorneys have received before regarding sperm donor agreements is whether an agreement is necessary or even a good idea for a married couple. Keep in mind that if you are married to a woman who has a baby, you will be presumed to be the father of the child in the eyes of the law. If the sperm donor meets the definition outlined in the Texas Family Code, then you should be in a good position to be the presumed father of a child which carries with it paternity rights. However, even with this presumption in mind if you want to create a sperm donor agreement it may not be a bad idea. One, it can help you and your spouse with peace of mind during the process. The second thing it can do is help provide evidence of the parties' intent at the time of the sperm donation process if the sperm donor decides to try and challenge the agreement that you all had at the time of the donation.

As a single woman who is trying to go through the artificial insemination process, it can be a confusing time. You don’t have a spouse or partner to confide in during what can be a difficult process. You may not know exactly what the law is regarding this subject, either. All in all, you need to be even more in tune with what the law is given that there is no presumption of paternity in your situation like there would be where you married. 

What you want to do is to work this situation from a couple of angles. The first thing that you need to know as far as paternity rights is that an Acknowledgment of Paternity is a must in your situation. An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a form that carries with it a great deal of weight. Even before the child is born, once you become pregnant you and the father of the child (if you want a man to be named as the legal father to your child) can complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity to establish paternity in him. At the same time, you may want the sperm donor (if you know him) to sign a denial of paternity which seeks to do the opposite- disclaim paternity rights, 

On the other hand, you and the sperm donor may have a relationship of some sort but are engaging in artificial insemination as the way to become pregnant. In that case, he may be a sperm donor, but he is also the intended father of your child. As a result, you may want to complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity with him to solidify his parental rights. Again, this can be done even before the child is born. Communicating the situation to your donor ahead of time if you can do so can avoid a lot of inconveniences in the future.

Final thoughts on sperm donation

From the perspective of a mother who intends to use a sperm donor, I hope that you can tell that proper and thorough planning are a must for you and your family. Whether you are married or not you need to think through the costs and benefits of using a sperm donor. We know that you want to have a baby or else you would not be going through with this process. What you need to plan for is whether using a sperm donor is a must for these purposes and whether there are other options to pursue which may be simpler and carry with them fewer risks. Cost is another obvious factor.

If you are a sperm donor who knows the family that you will be donating sperm to, then you should insist on a sperm donor agreement. This way there is no question about what your role will be in the arrangement. The last thing you want to see is your generosity turned against you somehow. People can change and start to behave differently when a child is involved, and the stresses of parenthood start to become a reality. You can avoid any miscommunication like this by having your relationship, or lack thereof, clearly stated in the agreement. Remember- using an attorney to draft this agreement is a great idea, as well. 

Next, think long and hard about who you use for the artificial insemination process. We don’t need to discuss the details of the process here but what we can do is mention that the costs of various clinics and methods can vary dramatically. Do your research. This is supposed to be a sensitive subject and an emotional one, as well. However, to say that you should not put forth some degree of thought into the logistics and details would be a huge mistake. Remember your budget and plan accordingly. The help of an attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is a great place to start, as well. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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