Known Sperm Donor Contracts & Legal Expenses
I am a law student, also, and would be happy to help in any way.
The book The Essential Lesbian Guide to Pregnancy, Conception and Birth has a huge shell of a contract, which I think is actually really good. One option is finding an example in a book or online, and someone (or me) could help you personalize it.
Like Cordelia said there might be a clinic or free legal aid center in NY? Also are there queer groups that maybe have a lawyer that could do pro-bono stuff for you?
You may also want to check with NCLR. They have some info on their website and a legal helpline. nclrights.org is the website. I had a friend who was thinking of working with a known donor here in the Bay Area, which is also an expensive area, and the attorney was going to charge her around $400. I also read the book everyone mentioned, and I recall it saying that if the donor gives the donation to a physician and then it goes to the recipient that he is effectively giving up his legal rights, but I'm not sure if that does work or how. Have you confirmed that you will be able to do IVF with a known donor who is not your spouse or sexual partner? I believe that is illegal here.
My understanding is that a lawyer's signature does nothing but show that she read it over. Lawyers don't have legal binding authority.
They can help with ensuring that a contract would stand up in court, containing all of the details that say things like "both parties have thoroughly read and agree to the terms." If both parties sign, that is usually what the court will look at, and the "wholeness" of the contract. Does that make sense??
Drafting your own using the Brill book and then having a lawyer look over it is what I would recommend!
Yes, and I would look at the NCLR for sure!
So I don't know if this is a jurisdictional thing, but donor contracts in Canada don't trump parental rights or rights that are legally enshrined.
When we went to draw up our contract, a few lawyers didn't want to work with us as we were using a known donor and wanted him involved in our kiddo's life. These lawyers had experience where donor contracts didn't stand up in court, and they won't stand up in court here. They told us our choice to use a known donor was a risky one and a donor contract was a waste of money.
If a known donor decides not to waive his rights for the second parent adoption, the donor contract won't negate that. It would only stand as background intention. But the involvement of the donor from the day the child is born will speak even more to that for the courts. A donor who has never met a child vs one who has had been involved daily or weekly will have their "parental" rights viewed differently legally.
What was most useful about doing one, and we did make one together, is that we were really able to think through things and have lots of clarifying discussions on intention. We all had different ideas about family involvement, holidays, day-to-day contact, and putting together a contract allowed us all to be on the same page and talk through some pretty hard issues in advance of a wee one being a tangible human being.
I'm mostly a lurker but thought I'd weigh in with our experience. We consulted an attorney in OR about reviewing a contract between us (my partner and I) and our known sperm donor (for iui). The attorney charged a flat fee of $500 if I remember correctly but was not willing to review one we had drafted ourselves. She only wanted to consult with us on drafting one herself. Her reasoning was that the time it would take her to thoroughly review a document that she not written herself would actually take longer (and presumably cost more) than doing it herself--which made sense to me.
During the free consultation she offered, she explained the process as follows: she would talk with me and my partner to cover our intentions and concerns. Then she needed to talk with our donor seperately. This was necessary to make sure he knew she was going to be OUR attorney, not his, which was not an issue for any of us as we were all on the same page but in the legal sense, was important apparently.
She also offered the service of second parent adoption along with TPR (termination of parental rights of donor) for a separate, additional $1000.
We actually did not use her services once we found out she did not review contracts drafted by others because our donor was previously an attorney and we felt comfortable using what he had put together.
One thing I would be concerned about in your situation is what the fertility clinic/doctor's policy is on the issue with regards to the IVF. What I mean is that usually clinics view directed gamete donation (in this case, known sperm donor) differently than anonymous gamete donation and have various hoops for such donations that don't exist for anonymous donations (or that are resolved at the time of the anonymous donation by the sperm/egg bank and no longer an issue by the time of sperm/egg use). Have you already addressed this with them?
In the end, the entire issue was moot since we didn't get pregnant and are now pursuing foster-adopt.
I'm glad the last few posters mentioned second parent adoption and termination of parental rights. I was wondering what steps you could take after a child is born from a known donor. The contract before birth is one thing, but it is not usually legally binding. It seems like legally the next 2 steps are what makes it all legit and truly protects a family from a known donor seeking parental rights.