A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple to help them have a child is facing a court order to pay one of those women child support. The order came after one of the mothers of the child applied for public assistance, a process which required her to disclose the identity of the donor and led the state to contact the man and demand that he provide the financial assistance that the family needed.
The mothers had created a private contract with the donor to relinquish his parental rights and absolve him of any obligations, but the state says that because the process was not supervised by a physician accord to state statute, he does not qualify as a donor and must be treated as a parent. This case brings up a lot of complicated family law issues including same-sex parent adoption, child support, and sperm donation.
The man is appealing the decision with the support of the child’s mothers. At this point, the case does not impact anyone but those immediately involved, but the appeals process could change that and make it relevant to all couples in the state where this is taking place. On a national level, it has no legal precedent but could serve as an example for families considering similar arrangements. In this case the couple went through the informal sperm donation process to save the expense of physician supervision but the eventual outcome is incredibly time consuming and likely costly. For those considering a similar path, looking at the long term potential for conflict might help with the determination about how to proceed and whether or not professional assistance, like that of a doctor or family law expert, is needed.
Source: WBUR, “Court to Sperm Donor: You Owe Child Support,” Feb. 12, 2014.