Does a sperm donor have parental rights?

According to documents filed in family court, actor Jason Patric is seeking a joint custody arrangement of his son with his long-term but now, ex-girlfriend. An element which makes the actor's child custody request complicated is that he agreed to be a sperm donor for his ex-girlfriend after they broke up. Their sperm donor arrangement was that his ex-girlfriend would keep the artificial insemination a secret and not seek child support from the actor. A child was conceived in 2009.

In the years that followed, the actor briefly got back together with his ex-girlfriend in 2011, got attached to his son and has now filed papers in court to seek a 50-50 child custody arrangement. The law regarding artificial insemination, however, states that a sperm donor is not the legal father. The judge in this case gave the actor's ex-girlfriend sole custody of the child but has allowed the actor to have visitation rights.

Florida residents may be aware that advances in medical technology have made it possible for couples to conceive a child through artificial insemination. Even though the technology is available, the laws surrounding issues of child custody, support, visitation and the like after a child is successfully conceived can add a layer of complexity. As actor Jason Patric's circumstances elucidate, having an agreement or arrangement ahead of time will help should such a case go to court. The intent of the parties, however, will matter in these types of situations.

Each case is different and unique. It important for individuals facing these issues to remember that even though a sperm donor is biologically the father, he is not legally the father of a child or any children conceived from use of his sperm. Depending, however, on certain factors such as the involvement of the sperm donor in the life of the child and the family, the original intention of the parties, informal visitation arrangements and more, a court may order child support or allow visitation rights.

In such complex cases and unique circumstances, it may help for a family facing such a dilemma to seek professional legal advice in the matter to understand their rights and obligations.

Source: opposingviews.com, "Jason Patric Seeks Visitation Rights after Sperm Donation to Ex-Girlfriend," Heather Manes, Nov. 29, 2012

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