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I'm a known sperm donor, donating to women via Artificial insemination who want to have a child but want to know something about the donor or avoid the cost; I also advise many women I'm not donating for. Most women want to get a contract signed saying the donor will have no legal rights after birth. In the USA there is one state that respects these contracts a very small number that don't, and the vast majority have no clear precedence either way. I tell women they are generally better off having a contract just in case it may be respected and so they should probably get one even if it's actual enforceability is unknown; plus there are some indirect benefits of the contract even if it never is used in court.

Many potential donors won't sign such contracts, and for good reason. Given the contracts may not work the donors prefer to protect themselves from potential child support by hiding their identity behind untraceable contact information and making it so the recipient, or the government, can't find them to force child support. Thus they really don't want to sign their full legal name on any contract. I don't really like women using those sorts of donors because of risks that are associated with using a donor you can't properly screen, but plenty still do.

So the question is rather one can have their cake and eat it to. What's the best way to both ensure that a donor's full identity is not revealed and yet make as clear and explicit as possible that the donor agrees to the full contents of such a contract and want it enforced if someone ever comes hunting them down for paternity and manages to find them?

I know in theory just having an e-mail saying "I don't want parental rights" is effectively a contract, but something like that is even less likely to be enforced then a full contract in a state without existing precedent, and it's unlikely to ease the concerns of a recipient. What's the cleanest option to give as much confidence to both sides the contract is agreed to and enforceable even if a donor refuses to give away their full legal name?

For instance could the donor sign a contract using his 'donor name', whatever name he uses when advertising themselves as a potential known donor? with the idea being if you have already associated that name to him to show up for child support then you have proven that name is his and thus the signature is binding?

I'm not including a specific state since I advise women in states all over the USA.

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  • Simply sendign an email saying "I don't want parental rights" would not on its own be a bionding contract, but an exchange of emails might be. However, in a jurisdiction that has held such contracts void as being against public policy, nothing will make such a contract valid, whether the donor's name is included or not. Many US states do not allow contracts to bar child support, as the right to support belongs to the child, not the parent. But in at least some cases sperm donations may be an exception. Jan 7, 2023 at 23:44

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There is no requirement to name the parties to a contract

I just bought a cup of coffee. I did not give my name to the other party to that contract and while I know the name of the shop, I do not actually know the legal entity I contracted with. Nevertheless, we have a binding contract and, for example, if that coffee gave me food poisoning, I would have legal recourse under that contract.

Similarly, there is no difficulty signing a contract under a pseudonym - it still creates a legally binding relationship.

The practical difficulties

While there is no legal problem, there is an evidentiary one - if someone enters a contract and later disclaims doing so, how do you prove that they did? Or vice-versa, if someone alleges that it was you that entered the contract, how do you prove that you didn’t.

What you need is some way of definitively but anonymously tying the person to the contract. I can think of lots - a fingerprint, DNA, public key cryptography, a trusted third-party intermediary to name just a few. This is essentially a technical problem rather than a legal one.

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