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Court Voids Ruling Requiring Sperm Donor to Pay Child Support

Wed 16th Jun, 2021 Family Law

An appeals court in North Carolina recently overturned a lower court ruling that held that a sperm donor was obligated to pay child support to the child’s birth mother. The sperm donor, a North Carolina man, had agreed in a verbal contract to provide artificial insemination to the mother. The procedure and the child’s birth both occurred in Virginia, and the mother and the child subsequently moved to California. In 2019, the Department of Social Services in North Carolina obtained a ruling that the sperm donor was the child’s father and was required to pay child support. The judge in that case found that, under North Carolina law, there is no exception for sperm donors from the state’s child support requirements. On appeal, the court ruled that the lower court should have applied Virginia law, as that was where the child was conceived and born and, under Virginia law, a sperm donor is not considered the child’s parent for child support purposes. 

This case raises an interesting question for California sperm donors and couples who choose to conceive artificial insemination — are sperm donors in California required to pay child support? A Stockton child support lawyer explains the answer below.  

What Does California Law Say about Child Support for Sperm Donors? 

California law is clear on this topic. Under California Family Code § 7613, the donor of semen to a licensed physician or to a sperm bank for use in assisted reproduction by a woman other than the donor’s spouse is treated by law is if he were not the natural parent of the child conceived. Instead, the spouse of the mother is treated as the natural parent of the child conceived, provided that he or she consent to such arrangement. However, the sperm donor and the mother may agree in writing that the sperm donor will be considered the child’s natural parent. 

Are There Any Exceptions? 

The above rule applies only in situations where the sperm donor provides semen to a licensed physician or a sperm bank. For sperm donations done privately, the sperm donor will be considered the child’s natural parent unless either of the following requirements is met: 

  • The sperm donor and the mother agree in writing signed prior to conception that the donor will not be a parent
  • The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived through assisted reproduction and that, prior to the conception of the child, the woman and the donor had an oral agreement that the donor would not be a parent. 

Sperm donors who do not wish to be considered the natural parent of the child conceived should thus go through a licensed physician or sperm bank or draft an agreement, ideally with the help of a Stockton child support lawyer, stating that the donor will not be considered a natural parent. 

Contact a Stockton Child Support Lawyer for Further Information 

If you are considering donating sperm or conceiving a child through artificial insemination, you need to make sure that you understand the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. For more information, please contact a Stockton child support lawyer at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.

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