November 29, 2012

When a man agrees to be his ex-girlfriend's sperm donor...

... with a physician as intermediary and thereby avoids the obligation of paying child support, should he succeed if, later, he asks a court to require the mother to share custody of the child?

The man is the actor Jason Patric, who says he gave the sperm on condition that the woman not seek child support, at a time when, he says, he didn't have enough money.

I'll add what I'd put on a law school exam: If you need more factual information in order to answer, tell me what it is and why you need it?

36 comments:

Jimmy said...

"with a physician as intermediary" .. now that part sounds pretty disgusting.

So he provided sperm on the condition that he could not be held responsible for child support.

That would seem to set a pretty high bar against a later claim to a right of shared custody.

rhhardin said...

Turkey-baster case law must cover it by now.

Clyde said...

Seems to me there was still a dick involved.

The Farmer said...

He didn't have enough money to give her after they broke up? How much money are you supposed to give somebody after you break up?

Jason Patric was a pretty good actor as I recall. He was great in After Dark My Sweet. And in a movie called Rush made around the same time.

Renee said...

What about the child's rights? And the interest from society, that the child has both parents?

It isn't just a baby, it's a person.

Renee said...

"Then in 2011 the couple attempted a reconciliation, and by the time they broke up in May 2012 Patric had grown attached to Gus."


And there is enough evidence, not only is he biologically the father, but not socially as well. He isn't some new unrelated partner, he is 'the dad' and behaved like 'a dad' to the baby.

Once they attempted to reconcile, the agreement isn't really enforceable.


harrogate said...

As someone totally unfamiliar with the laws in this area, I'd like a bit more information on one thing in particular. Does this:

"Then in 2011 the couple attempted a reconciliation, and by the time they broke up in May 2012 Patric had grown attached to Gus."

matter at all? In other words would a judge consider this to be ireelevant information or vitally important in some way? On the level of first blush reaction, this seems pretty important to me.

Pogo said...

Spooge in haste, repent at leisure.


Shouting Thomas said...

I'm perplexed that a guy wants to pass up the screwing and prefers to yank off in a cup.

There's something wrong here!

Matthew Sablan said...

I've no sympathy for the sperm donor. It sucks for the kid, and the mom -should- let him get to know the kid if the kid is OK with it. But, it seems like, legally, you shouldn't allow sperm donors to try and force their way into the kid's life. In short, this seems perfectly reasonable to me:

"But while his former lover is apparently happy to offer Jason the right to spend time with the boy voluntarily, she objects to a judge ordering visitation."

Then again, I'm not a lawyer, so, I may be overlooking something. But, so many of these things could be solved without lawyers if adults would be reasonable.

Gahrie said...

There are documented cases in which men have attempted this, (support free free sperm donation) and the courts have demanded that the sperm donor pay child support anyway.

MayBee said...

I'll try to be fair and say I don't like it, because I wouldn't like it if the reverse were true and she decided to go after him for child support all this time later.

Hagar said...

Democrats never feel they should be held to contracts that do not turn out as well for them as they had thought when they made them!

traditionalguy said...

Also see, Adoption laws which are a man made attempts to get a legal basis for parental rights for non parents and must also sever the parental rights of the real parent.

Why do we make those laws? Because we can establish semi-twisted families that are less twisted than the man and woman involved created for their child.

This case should be in a clergy jurisdiction, not in a Law Court.

Calypso Facto said...

They should have had a better lawyer draw up their initial child un-support agreement if this eventuality wasn't foreseen and covered.

Saint Croix said...

If you need more factual information in order to answer, tell me what it is and why you need it?

My question is, what does the statute say? Because there ain't no common law that's going to solve this.

Nathan Alexander said...

And the interest from society, that the child has both parents?

I object to this.

Yes, society benefits from a child having a diverse set of parents (diversity is good, right? diversity = father and a mother).

But we cannot destroy liberty to ensure this.

If a child's mother or father dies, can we force the surviving spouse to remarry because it is better for the spouse?

Should we not allow gay couples to adopt children because they aren't getting the diversity of a mother and father?

No.

If we decide society can destroy liberty to ensure a society-preferred outcome for a child, then there is no bright line that prohibits taking a child away from parents because they, say, vote GOP.

If liberty means anything, it means that you have the right to enjoy/suffer the consequences of your choices. If an "innocent" suffers (i.e., a child) from your choices, then you have the right to suffer to the extent that your conscience compels you to be accountable.

And there is not a person walking the earth who didn't suffer due to their parents'/guardians' choices.

To be human is to transcend disadvantages, not wallow in them.

Saint Croix said...

But there is a law which states if an unmarried man artificially inseminates an unmarried woman with the help of a physician, he is not legally the father and has no custody rights.

That's pretty clear. Although it's stupid, too. Why is sperm-in-a-cup different than sperm-in-a-vagina? Either way you're the father.

If a man needs to be married to be a father, it should apply in both cases. In legal circles this principle is called You shoulda put a ring on it.

Of course, if you're the Court, it doesn't matter if the law is stupid. You just follow it.

The judge ruling on the case temporarily gave sole legal and physical custody of the boy to Danielle, with Jason being given visitation rights.

Or just ignore the law! Always another option.

But while his former lover is apparently happy to offer Jason the right to spend time with the boy voluntarily, she objects to a judge ordering visitation.

I like her. She's right.

My feeling on this is that she still wants a relationship with him, and wants him to be a father to her son. What she doesn't want is all this divorce court shit.

smarty said...

According to common sense and "fairness", a deal is a deal.

But you lawyers have made sure that the law has nothing the do with either.

Unknown said...

My (limited) understanding of family law is that a father and mother can't contract away the child's rights. That includes the child's right to parental visitation and the child's right to support.

The mother could agree not to seek support, that doesn't affect the child's right to support. If the mother won an award of support, that could be offset by contract damages in the amount of the support. But if she were to declare bankruptcy, the contract damages could be discharged and the support would continue.

The only factual information that is missing is whether the father/donor explicitly agreed to surrender his parental rights when he donated sperm.

California seems to terminate paternal rights as a matter of law. Could be an interesting constitutional challenge.

If the father surrendered his paternity rights, then he is legally not the child's father, and doesn't have the right to seek visitation.

kcom said...

Here's the question I want answered - Why does someone like Jason Patric have no money?

I thought it was going to be a story from 15 years ago when maybe he was starting out and unknown (which, looking him up in IMDB, was not even true then). But it was only three years ago. Wasn't he a little old to be making deals like that?

edutcher said...

Lifetime movie.

dbp said...

The approach I (a non-lawyer) would take is to break-down the various layers of relation and then see if they add-up to some kind of parental right.

1. Say the mother had a relationship with a man who was not the sperm donor. They lived together for around a year and the man helped to raise the child during that time.


2. If he later (Hollywood movie-style) found out that the child was his, would this change anything?

I would suggest that his parental engagement might give him some rights but the happenstance of his genetic contribution would be irrelevant from the standpoint of paternaty rights. It might well be a factor in family court though since a man has greater motive to take on a parental role when the child is his biological offspring.

Additionally, I think an unstated but obvious assumption of the couple's original deal was that their relationship was over. Since they later re-kindled it, that certainly weakens the deal.

What would be a just outcome? Give him 50/50 custody but only on the condition that if he later decides to relinquish custody, he will be on the hook for child support from that point on.

Renee said...

Should ANYONE be able to surrender their parental rights/obligations without a hearing or legal process?



Ron Nelson said...

The provision that severs any parental obligations (and rights) in a sperm donor is intended to facilitate a contract for services rendered. The protection exists to induce semen providers to render a service for this limited purpose.

The conduct of the parties subsequent to the contract may render this severing null and void. Each party had the obligation to consider how their post contract conduct would affect it. Were the woman now seeking child support she would be making the same arguments he is in support of establishing parental rights.

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Sam L. said...

Agree with Jimmy.

cubanbob said...

I am still trying to understand why she would want to get impregnated by her ex.

gregq said...

He made a deal, he doesn't like the deal.

Tough. He loses.

The only fact that would make a difference is if men in the same situation have been successfully sued for child support. If she wasn't in fact bound by the deal, then he shouldn't be, either.

gregq said...

"Then in 2011 the couple attempted a reconciliation, and by the time they broke up in May 2012 Patric had grown attached to Gus."

Then ASK mom to allow a continued relationship.

"But while his former lover is apparently happy to offer Jason the right to spend time with the boy voluntarily, she objects to a judge ordering visitation."

Good for her, bad for him. Taking her to court is amazingly stupid on his part.

ambienisevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AlanKH said...

"When a man agrees to be his ex-girlfriend's sperm donor..."

...the man should be subjected to court-ordered psychotherapy, conducted by Dr. Helen Smith, one of the blogosphere's leading critics of the War on Men.

Dante said...

I don't see what one person waiving their rights has to do with an implicit obligation of another person to waive their rights.

Did he explicitly waive his rights? Perhaps because there is an intermediary physician does he implicitly waive his parental rights? If either are true, then it's some matter of specific law, and not a very interesting question.

The only way I can think of to make this an interesting question is if he has not implicitly or explicitly waived his rights. In that case, I'm having a hard time understanding the question: should he succeed if, later, he asks a court to require the mother to share custody of the child?

Whether or not he succeeds has nothing to do with the predicate, so the answer is "Yes, he should succeed," and "No, he should not succeed." It's just a poorly worded question. I hope you don't put it on your exam.

It seems to encourage the student to justify their view of "should" or "should not" based on their personal morality, or definition of justice, as opposed to law.

Dante said...

But there is a law which states if an unmarried man artificially inseminates an unmarried woman with the help of a physician, he is not legally the father and has no custody rights.

It's in the article. It's the law. Sorry, Jason loses.

Gahrie said...

In writing about men's reproductive rights, I discovered:

There are cases in which the man and woman make a contract in which he agrees to provide her with sperm, and she agrees to free him from all parental responsibility including support. (Estes v. Albers and Straub v. B.M.T. by Todd) The courts have ruled that in these cases the father is still liable for child support.

http://gahrie.blogspot.com/2006/03/roe-v-wade-for-men.html

Matt Johnston said...

A few pieces of information would be helpful. While Patric was not obligated and the mother could not request child support per agreement, was Patric indeed providing voluntary support on a regular or semi-regular basis. I would think that would change the calculus.

Certainly an interesting case, wonder how may family law exams this case will appear on in law schools next semester.