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Cutting Through Complexity

The Broody Bunch

1st September 2016

A tug-of-love between diapers and directorships is driving career women to put off having children until perhaps it’s too late. Rachel Lemon highlights the legal implications of today’s modern family.

Nowadays, many women are delaying motherhood, often because they are too busy in the boardroom or because they have not found that special someone with whom to have children. More often than not, it’s a combination of the two. However, once the biological clock starts ticking, the desire to have a family is the same, regardless of circumstance. Fertility problems discovered once the decision to try for a family has been made, the lack of a male partner or those in same sex relationships are all features of the modern family and science has evolved to a spectacular degree to assist reproduction.

Donor conception using sperm, eggs or embryos donated by someone else or a surrogacy arrangement are not unusual and neither are they taboo topics at the dinner table. Much focus is understandably given to the fertility process and achieving a successful outcome. During such an emotionally trying time, not many spare a thought to the possible legal implications. It is a complex area of law and early legal advice is recommended before embarking on treatment.

  • Is the fertility treatment to be carried out at a registered clinic?
  • Has the couple jointly consented to the treatment?
  • Are the couple married to each other or other people?
  • If a donor is being used, is the person known or unknown to the parties?
  • What rights and responsibilities do the adults in the child’s life have and want to have? How is this best achieved, from a legal and practical perspective?
  • In which country is the treatment to be carried out? Are there other international elements?

If you have waited a long time to have a baby, you don’t want the joy of the birth to be clouded with complications and court proceedings. With the concept of the modern family on the rise, lawyers are dealing with more and more cases to ensure that those considering third party assistance, fully understand the legal implications.

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