Court says sperm donor not liable for child support

In determining child support arrangements, Maryland child support guidelines tend to emphasize the interests of the child over the interests of the parents. As a recent case shows, however, there can be limits to this principle. A recent court decision said that a sperm donor from Texas had no child support obligations toward two children conceived by way of in vitro fertilization, even though the mother used his donated sperm. The mother had actually given birth to triplets, but one died in its first year of life.

The 47- year-old bodybuilder and former police officer had been paying child support since the mother brought a lawsuit that resulted in a 2008 court order.

The man and the woman had a previous intimate relationship, but were never married. In Maryland, a husband is presumed to be the father of children born to his wife while they are married unless he can prove otherwise.

Five years after the woman moved to California, leaving the man behind in Texas, the man agreed to provide sperm for an vitro procedure. When the mother commenced her suit for child support, the donor was already married to another woman.

The original order for child support is perhaps not as shocking as it might seem on the surface. The man was listed on the children’s birth certificate as the father, and he had signed a declaration of paternity.

After four years, the California Appellate Court has overturned the lower court’s child support order. Both California and Texas have statutes that say a sperm donor is not considered the legal father of any resulting child.

As family law varies from state to state, whether sperm donors must make child support payments remains quite complex. The costs of making such payments of course may far outweigh any income received for having donated in the first place.

Source: CBS DFW, “Arlington Sperm Donor Owes No Child Support,” April 11, 2012