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Dear Patient Care Advocates: What Are My Partner's Parental Rights if We Use a Sperm Donor?

Dear Patient Care Advocates:

My boyfriend and I are looking into using a sperm donor to conceive our child(ren). I read about the case of Jonathan Sporn in New York fighting for custody of his child conceived by donor sperm after the death of his girlfriend, Luann Leutner, and it has me worried! I want to make sure we are protected.

Mom-and-Dad-to-be in Philadelphia

Dear Mom and Dad,

I applaud you for thinking ahead! Many people don’t realize how their parenting plans (as an unmarried couple) can backfire if the law firmly requires proof of intention to co-parent a child. You absolutely should consult a Reproductive and Family Law Attorney in Pennsylvania.

Your lawyer will help protect your rights, your boyfriend’s rights, and the best interest of your future family in the following ways:

  • By drafting and reviewing sperm donor compensation contracts (if any).

  • By screening your sperm donor (including background investigation and extensive medical, physical, and reproductive health questionnaires if not already provided by the sperm bank or clinic).

  • Outlining the role (if any) of the sperm donor in the child’s life and the child’s ability to contact the sperm donor in the future.

  • Planning who will receive custody of the child in the event of death (this is exactly the concern you mentioned).

  • Protecting you and your partner against future claims for custody or financial support by the sperm donor.

I hope this helps ease your fears and make an educated decision about hiring an attorney.

All my best,
Submit your question to the Patient Care Advocates by emailing

Watch as Dr. Brad Miller explains the process of donor sperm insemination:

Click image to play.

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