Family law is an ever-changing field as time passes because the norms of starting a family are changing. A lesbian mother from California who recently fought a paternity suit is a prime example of today’s progressive family. In order to keep identities private, we will not use names, but the mother wanted to have a child through artificial insemination and, therefore, found a willing donor.
A gay man, also from California, responded to the want-to-be mother’s request, and they successfully created a baby with his donated sperm and her egg through artificial insemination. For two years, the threesome lived according to an alleged contract that allowed the father occasional time with the child. The mother, however, did have the child full time and was the party responsible for making the important, parental decisions regarding the child’s life and wellbeing.
Two years after the child was born, the custody situation between the sperm donor father and mother no longer satisfied the father, and he sued the mother in court with the goal of earning shared child custody. The court, however, ruled in favor of letting the mother keep full custody of the child.
According to the mother’s family law attorney, if the judge had ruled in favor of the father, that would have been a dangerous decision regarding the future of the progressive family. Men would begin to avoid donating sperm and women would avoid using a sperm donor because they would worry about future legal challenges, such as custody and child support disputes.
By ruling in favor of the mother, claims the mother’s lawyer, the court followed the precedent that sperm donors are not to be treated in the same way as “natural” fathers in the eyes of the law. The father’s attorney adds to that by warning those who do want to have more parental rights over a child born through artificial insemination to get their wishes clearly documented in a legal contract before the child is born.
Santa Monica Daily Press: Sperm donor loses unique paternity suit (9/16/2010)