In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a four year old boy should be able to spend time with the parents of the donor whose sperm was used in his conception. 

The boy is the son of a lesbian couple, one of whom was an acquaintance of the donor. Initially, the donor spent regular time with his biological son, but contact between them started to become a problem after the couple's relationship broke down, and the man sought a court order to ensure it continued. 

The court ruled that it was in the boy's best interests to have a relationship not only with the sperm donor but also with his wider family, to help the child with 'understanding the big picture of his birth story'. The judge said that regular contact was vital to the boy's 'sense of identity'. 

Men who donate sperm through a licensed fertility clinic do not have rights or responsibilities towards children born as a result, and that is unlikely to change. However, this very important case demonstrates the possible implications of entering into more informal arrangements for sperm donation, and prospective parents should take legal advice on the consequences if this is something that they are considering.