People seeking donor sperm often turn to friends, family members, and sometimes strangers. Although this may be easier in many respects than going to a sperm bank, it can result in complicated and unfortunate situations that hurt one or both parties involved in the matter. One such complication is that a sperm donor could be made to pay child support to the custodial parent, even though the donor is not interested in raising the child. Here's more information about this problem, and how to avoid it.
Donors and Parental Rights and Responsibilities
The problem is that states handle sperm donors and their parental rights and responsibilities in different ways. Some states have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act and made it so a donor who furnishes sperm to a licensed physician for insemination is automatically relieved of all parental responsibilities to the resulting child.
People who don't follow this rule often get caught up in the very circumstances they were trying to avoid. For example, the state of Kansas is trying to make a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple pay child support. Since the woman performed the insemination at home without the assistance of a licensed doctor (contrary to the state's statute), the man's parental rights and responsibilities were not terminated, and he is regarded as one of the child's legal parents by the state.
Other states, however, let donors terminate their parent rights via a contract with the receiver. For instance, if the donor signs a valid contract stating he will not be held financially responsible for any child resulting from his sperm, the courts will deny the custodial parent child support.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself if you give sperm is follow your state's statutes regarding this type of donation. If the state requires the transaction be handled by a licensed doctor, then be certain you're providing the sample to a doctor and that the doctor will be inseminating the receiver.
Insemination via a physician can be expensive, which is why many people decide to do it themselves at home. If you find that neither you nor the receiver can afford to use a doctor, then an alternative is to donate your sperm to a sperm bank. Sperm banks typically protect the anonymity of their donors. However, many will make exceptions for people who want sperm from a specific person. Going through a donation center will let you take advantage of the protection provided to people who donate sperm this way.
The second thing you can do is have a contract drawn up disavowing your parental rights and responsibilities. The contract should be in writing and witnessed by a third party such as an attorney or a notary public. A verbal contract is not enough. Although courts typically consider verbal contracts to be valid, it can be very difficult proving what the terms of the contract were, and the outcome of a lawsuit may hinge on who the court believes is more credible.
The third option is to legally petition the court to relinquish your parental rights. This can be challenging to do. The court's primary concern is what's in the best interest of the child, and many courts prefer children to have the support of both parents. However, you may have a good chance of getting the court to sever your parental rights if:
- The child will have two parents (as is the case with infertile or lesbian couples)
- The custodial parent is financially capable of taking care of the child alone
- The child is being adopted by a step-parent or third party
Protecting yourself from being held responsible for a child after donating sperm can involve some complex legal maneuvering. Contact a family law attorney or check out a website like http://www.gremlaw.com for assistance with this issue.