In British Columbia, legislation provides that a sperm donor does not have automatic parental rights. In the rest of the country, there is no definitive case law pertaining to the obligations and rights of sperm donors. It is unknown how many sperm-donation births occur each year since the sale of donor sperm is illegal, but in the United States, where it is legal, it is estimated that 30,000 of these births occur annually.
Sometimes, a sperm donation occurs because a couple is unable to conceive a child through standard means. This is the case of actor Jason Patric, who is undergoing a custody battle in the California court system. California is like most of Canada with no definitive case law for this type of situation. Patric and his former girlfriend were in an on-and-off relationship for nearly 10 years before they opted for in-vitro fertilization with Patric as the donor. Their son was born in 2009, but the actor’s name was not included on the birth certificate.
The couple dated again for about two years with Patric active in his parenting role. After the couple broke up in 2012, the court sided with the former girlfriend in a custody dispute since there was no father listed on the birth certificate. Patric had desired shared custody, but the court instead granted his former girlfriend’s request for a restraining order, which is still in place.
An appeals court may agree that denying access for a father who has been active in the life of his child is not in the best interests of the child. However, some worry that a court decision in this direction would allow for single mothers to seek child support from those fathers who wished only to donate sperm and not participate in the lives of their biological children. It has been stated that each case is unique and should be examined as such, taking into consideration what would benefit the children the most.
Source: Jason Patric’s custody battle a cautionary tale on parental rights, “Jason Patric’s custody battle a cautionary tale on“, Leah Mclaren, May 08, 2014
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