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What is artificial insemination and how does it work legally?

There are two ways to artificially inseminate a mother. One method, actually referred to as "artificial insemination," involves a doctor taking sperm from either the father or a donor and placing it within the mother. The other method, and sometimes harder to accomplish, is in vitro fertilization. This method is very similar to artificial insemination, except that the doctor will inseminate the eggs outside of the mother. The doctor can use either donor sperm or donor eggs. The doctor then places the eggs into the mother.

Regarding artificial insemination, any child born using this method is generally presumed to be the child of the father, regardless of the source of the sperm. This holds true whether the sperm is used by the father or not. Additionally the law will typically presume, between a married couple, that the husband is the father of the child.

In vitro fertilization is a bit trickier legally because it can involve both donor sperm and donor eggs. Typically, the law will presume that the birth mother is the legitimate mother of the child. There are additional issues, such as:

  • Parentage matters regarding surrogacy and donor matters.
  • Custody or inheritance disputes over the eggs should the parents end up in a dispute or separation battle.
  • Safekeeping over the eggs. Liability issues, should something happen to the eggs.

The law is constantly evolving over these new processes. It wouldn't be unusual for states to have vastly different legal approaches to these processes. If you are a parent whose child was born using either of the methods mentioned above and have questions pertaining to your parental rights, then you may want to speak to a lawyer. The attorney may be able to help you clarify your situation or work toward resolving any custodial disputes.

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