Court says sperm donor does not have to pay child support

In a very interesting family law story, a California appeals court recently ruled that a Texas sperm donor does not have to pay child support for the children he helped a woman conceive via in vitro fertilization. The case raises interesting questions about whether it makes a difference, as far as the payment of child support is concerned, if the sperm donor and recipient knew each other, or the procedure was conducted anonymously.

According to reports, the sperm donor, Ronnie C., is a bodybuilder and record-holding eight-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title. He had an on-and-off sexual relationship with the woman who would later sue him for child support — identified in court documents as Jo D. — starting in 1991. She moved from Texas to California in 2001, and the two remained friends.

In 2006, Jo D. told Ronnie C. that she was planning to seek artificial insemination via a sperm bank, and he offered to donate his sperm to her through the bank. She eventually gave birth to triplets in 2007.

Five days after the triplets were born, Ronnie C. signed documents at the hospital that declared he was the father. However, he later said he thought he was only confirming that he was the sperm donor, not the father.

In 2008, Jo D. sued Ronnie C. for child support, and the court ordered him to pay, saying that the documents he signed declaring himself the father obligated him to pay child support.

In March 2012, a California appeals court overturned that ruling, finding that “the donor of semen provided to a licensed physician and surgeon or to a licensed sperm bank for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the natural father of a child.”

Ronnie C. was understandably pleased with the ruling, as he must no longer pay thousands in child support.

“The appeals court essentially recognized the statute in California that allows women to receive sperm from a medical facility … and not to have to worry about the specter of the donor coming back and filing a paternity action,” said his attorney.

According to experts, Texas law is similar, meaning that sperm donors are generally responsible for child support if they intend to be the parent of any children conceived by an unmarried woman through artificial insemination or IVF.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child support or post-divorce issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.


The Star-Telegram, “Appeals court rules Arlington sperm donor doesn’t owe child support,” Elizabeth Campbell, April 9, 2012

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “California court says Texas sperm donor owes no child support” April 12, 2012