People in Massachusetts may have seen a recent news article about a Midwest man who responded to a Craigslist ad posted by two women looking for a sperm donor. The man donated, and one of the women conceived, and all seemed well. That is, until over three years later when another state came knocking on the man’s door looking to collect unpaid child support.
It turns out that one of the women had since lost her job and was trying to collect state benefits for her and the child. The state then turned to the biological father, even though the man had relinquished his father’s rights to child custody and hadn’t been involved in the child’s life since the donation took place.
The state demanded $6000 in back support and future support payments, in part due to the fact that in the state a sperm donor can only relinquish parental rights and duties if a physician handles the artificial insemination procedure. Since they handled the insemination themselves, the agreement the three made had no bearing on his status under state law and he was presumptive father, complete with the duty to pay child support.
Unfortunately, many states’ family law codes are woefully outdated and ill-equipped to handle the myriad of child-bearing arrangements people enter into every day. The only way to avoid unintended consequences in these situations is by relying on the expert counsel of an experienced family law attorney to draft a legally sufficient and binding contract. Otherwise people could find themselves on the hook for child support or having to fight for child custody with a donor many years later.
Source: Washington Times “Who’s your daddy? Sperm donors, paternity, child support and the law,” by Myra Fleischer, Jan. 17, 2013