Our blog often focuses on the legal representation that should be sought after a decision is made. For instance, an attorney will protect the interests of a spouse during a divorce or help develop a parenting plan for a child that has already been born. There are however, some decisions that should not be made or actions that should not be taken before first seeking legal counsel.
A young man is currently amidst a child support dispute that most likely could have been avoided with a little more careful planning. The situation involved the donation of his sperm to a lesbian couple so that they could conceive a child. When the decision was made, all three individuals agreed that the sperm donor would relinquish any and all rights to the child; this included both his right to seek visitation as well as their right to enforce child support. So why the battle now? In this instance the state is the one seeking to enforce the rights.
The dispute began three years after the birth of the child when the two parents found themselves in financial trouble. The pair sought child support assistance from the Department of Children and Families. When they filed the claim, the state felt as though the biological father should contribute.
Most states have laws protecting sperm donors from this exact situation, but those laws have requirements. In this instance, the state required that the sperm is provided with and the insemination performed by a licensed physician. In this instance it was not, and the state argued that this invalidated the agreement to relinquish parental rights, including financial obligations.
No one expects that the average individual be aware of each and every law that exists. This is precisely why we have attorneys in the first place who spend their time researching and understanding the complex nature of each state law and its consequences.
Source: Pioneer Press, “State trying to make sperm donor pay child support,” John Hanna, Jan. 2, 2013