The answer is: not necessarily. Early in 2014, a Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple while also signing documents waiving his parental rights may have to pay child support anyhow. “I donated sperm and that was it for me,” he told CNN.
A judge ruled otherwise, saying that he must pay child support. This was because the lesbian couple conceived the child through an artificial insemination procedure that was carried out at home, which fails to conform to Kansas law. In Kansas, a licensed physician must be involved in an artificial insemination process.
After following up on an ad on Craigslist in March of 2009, sperm was donated and documents were signed waiving parental rights. Now that the child is four years old, Kansas law says he is the father and has to pay up.
The issue has come up in California as well. In 2012, a California appellate court held that the renowned bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman was not required to pay child support for triplets (one of whom tragically died) he fathered through artificial insemination after a court ordered him to pay over $4,000 per month.
In 2006, Coleman agreed to donate sperm at a California Sperm bank for a friend. He admitted having no interest in having parental duties but was willing to donate his sperm to a woman who allegedly had an on-again off-again sexual relationship with the bodybuilder in his past. Four years later he was slapped with a paternity suit forcing him to pay child support. After dutifully paying the child support for several years, an appellate court overturned the verdict.
California Family Code section 7613 says that the donor of semen provided to a licensed physician or 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 thereby conceived. The court found that because the facts of Coleman’s case fell squarely within the parameters of 7613, any agreements between them as to parenthood were void.
The language of Code section 7613 can also help women who want to withhold parental rights from men who have donated sperm. A previous California case, Steven S. v. Deborah D., is a prime example. There, a man attempted to establish paternity for a child he fathered through artificial insemination with a woman he was intimately involved with but to whom he was not married. The woman argued against paternity and the court agreed that 7613 guaranteed the right of women to bear children without fear of paternity claims.
Paternity cases can be dramatic and complicated. If you find yourself in a difficult child custody situation, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free consultation.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.
See California Family Code § 7613.