Can a Sperm Donor Be Required to Pay Child Support?

Whether a sperm donor is on the hook for child support may depend on what the donor does after the baby is born.

California law protects sperm donors from parental responsibilities, as well as protecting intended parents from a claim of parentage from sperm donors. Family Code §7613(b) provides that the donor of semen provided to a licensed physician or a licensed sperm bank for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization of a woman other than his wife won’t held to be the natural father of the child thereby conceived absent written agreement to the contrary.

Even if a licensed physician isn’t involved in the insemination, the donor still won’t be found to be a parent if either (1) the donor and the woman agree in a writing signed before conception that the donor won’t be a parent or (2) a court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the woman and the donor had an oral agreement made before conception that the donor won’t be a parent. Fam C §7613(b)(2).

But the protective statute only applies to establishing paternity based on the donor’s biological connection to the child. It can still be established that he’s a presumed parent under another statute—Fam C §7611(d)—based on his postbirth conduct. Jason P. v Danielle S. (2017) 9 CA5th 1000.

In a recent case, the sperm donor ran right into the intersection of the two statutes: He had his sperm extracted and the mother paid for the insemination, but his actions in the first couple of years of the child’s life, including staying with him and his mother a couple of nights a week, financially helping out the mother, identifying himself as the father to the mother’s friends and family, and allowing the child to call him “daddy,” belied his claim of just being a donor under §7613(b). He was found to be the child’s presumed father under §7611(d) and ordered to pay child support. County of Orange v Cole (2017) 14 CA5th 504.

So what does this mean for sperm donors? In anonymous situations, the donor is likely to be protected by §7613(b). But when an unmarried woman is using a known sperm donor, the parties should enter into a written agreement preconception, specifying that the donor will not be a parent and clearly indicating that the written agreement controls over any conflicting medical forms. And the donor should act in a manner that’s consistent with that agreement, or risk being considered a presumed parent under §7611(d).

For more on parentage determinations, turn to CEB’s Practice Under the California Family Code: Dissolution, Legal Separation, Nullity, chap 8A. On the parent-child relationship as it relates to custody, check out CEB’s California Child Custody Litigation and Practice, chap 2.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find interesting:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2 thoughts on “Can a Sperm Donor Be Required to Pay Child Support?

  1. Why should any person be exempted from responsibility for their own offspring? From a health records standpoint it creates a false record of human reproduction for the department of public health and for the person who is incorrectly identified as the offspring of a person who did not reproduce to create them. The false birth certificate undermines the our rights to obtain birth, marriage and death records of our relatives and fraudulently misrepresents relatedness to the family members of the person who misrepresents themselves as the parent of the person the certificate is issued for. Why should some parents be obligated to support their young while others are not? How is that fair to their offspring? It’s never a good thing when people abandon their young why is it that we consider gamete donation acceptable as a society if they are donating more than a gamete? Donate all the gametes you want just don’t abandon responsibility for your young at birth. It really is just a big false facade to cover up black market adoption where people just are not named parents on their offspring’s birth certificates. Black market adoption does not necessarily require payment for a child it is the off market adoption of other people’s offspring without going through court approved adoption proceedings to protect the person from graft and corruption of human trading.

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