As more couples struggle with infertility, the demand for assisted reproductive technologies has grown tremendously. 


As the world of fertility treatments turns, the relationships they form can get quite complex. 


Just when you think you’ve wrapped your head around the intricacies of in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, another ethical knot rears its challenging head. 


One of the most popular options is egg donation, where a woman donates her eggs to an intended parent or couple. 


On the surface, it seems like a more personal approach that allows the parties more control. 


But as with many things, the personal can quickly get messy when legal issues are thrown into the mix. 


What happens if the donor wants contact with any children born from the donation years down the road? 


What obligations do the intended parents have to the donor, and vice versa, in the absence of clear contract terms set by a facilitating clinic?

Directed Donation Agreements vs. Using Clinics as Intermediaries

Directed donation agreements, directly connecting donors and IPs, offer a more personalized and potentially cost-effective route.


Donors and intended parents can establish a more intimate connection between the parties involved, fostering a sense of mutual understanding and control over the process. Moreover, direct agreements may provide greater flexibility in terms of donor selection, facilitating a more tailored experience for IPs.


Plus by avoiding clinic fees, intended parents may save thousands of dollars while also having greater control over the process.


As with all things there comes potential disadvantages. 


Unlike the clinic-mediated process, there are no legal obligations to proceed with the donation once an agreement is made, leaving the parties vulnerable to disagreements or even breach of contract.


Intended parents must vet donors themselves, which can be expensive and time-consuming, and must take on the legal and financial responsibilities of working directly with a donor. 


Using clinics as intermediaries offers a layer of professional oversight and regulation. 


Clinics often provide comprehensive services, including medical evaluations, legal guidance, and psychological support, reducing potential risks and ensuring compliance with legal standards. 

Legal Implications of Privity of Contract

California law recognizes the significance of contracts in direct donations but also presents challenges regarding privity of contract.

This legal principle states that only parties who have signed a contract may enforce its terms or be held liable for a breach. 

But donors and intended parents who don’t have an enforceable contract face potential legal disputes and a lack of legal protection which may complicate the enforcement of agreements or responsibilities.


To mitigate the legal risks in a directed donation arrangement, a well-structured agreement should be drafted and signed by all parties. 


The agreement should include the egg donor’s signature consenting to the donation and any conditions attached to the egg donation contract. 


Parties must also consider the legal implications of property rights over the donated eggs, particularly if any leftover eggs will be frozen for future use.


The landscape of directed donation agreements versus clinic-mediated arrangements for egg donation is like a tapestry woven with both promise and pitfalls. 


One should always consult a family law attorney to review all documents such as contracts, agreements, and authorizations thoroughly before signing them as legally binding. 


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