Artificial insemination has created grey area in the practice of family law as our readers have become well aware of. Child support is one area that more increasingly involves sperm and egg donors and parental rights. Most states, including California have laws that regulate donor relationships in some way.
When it comes to child support orders, the most common disputes involve the actual determination of the amount of child support to be paid or the enforcement of orders that are already in place. However, when artificial insemination is involved in these disputes, often the issue is over the ability to deny an obligation. The recent plight of one male donor shows how the laws play into this situation and the need to seek legal counsel prior to involvement in donor relationships.
In this instance, a generous man wanted to give a gift to a couple who could not have a child. The lesbian couple was thrilled that the man was going to help them conceive a child. All parties agreed that the sperm donor would relinquish any and all parental rights to the child, including financial obligations.
The issue arose not from the mothers of the child that was born, but through the state. When the two women filed for public assistance through the Department of Children and Families, the state determined that the donor should contribute and forced the women to disclose the name of the donor.
How could they do this? The state argued that the agreement relinquishing rights was not valid because the donation was not facilitated through a licensed physician, a small requirement in the laws of the state that protected donor fathers from future obligation. While this incident occurred under Kansas law, it demonstrates how even the slightest detail could lead to complications or require legal assistance for resolution.
Source: Pioneer Press, “State trying to make sperm donor pay child support,” Dec. 2, 2013