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Do Sperm Donors Have to Pay Child Support?

Scientific estimates regarding artificially inseminated births vary widely. They reportedly range between $30,000 – $60,000 each year in the US. There are intricate legal ramifications that can arise from artificial conception – specifically related to parental rights and financial obligations the law requires. With more than 30 years practicing family law in California, Schoenberg Family Law Group has the experience, expertise and compassion to bring a thoughtful and equitable resolution to your case regarding child support.

Artificial Insemination Background

The first frozen sperm conception occurred in 1953 and led to the widespread commercialization of sperm banks by the early to mid 1970s, continuing to the present day. Artificial insemination remains a viable option for women who want children but are unable to conceive by other methods. For both anonymous sperm donors and recipients, there are myriad considerations to evaluate before donating sperm or conceiving through artificial insemination.

Donor Privacy and Anonymity

Debate continues on the rights of a donor to remain anonymous and the right of offspring to know who his or her parents are. In the case of the offspring, one argument is that knowing the identity of the parents would provide knowledge about a potential predisposition to mental or physical health problems. If the child knew about possible mental or physical conditions, he or she may be able to act to prevent them. In the case of a donor, most contend there’s a prima facie right, which means the right to remain private is in place until there is a legal reason that the information should be public.

The Uniform Parentage Act

State law protecting sperm donors varies. About two-thirds of states have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA). The UPA establishes that any male who provides sperm under the guidance of a physician for purposes of artificial insemination is not the father unless he is legally married to the recipient. Therefore, if there is no legal marriage, the male who provided the sperm is not legally obligated to perform fatherly duties such as paying child support. However, most states adopting the UPA have not been willing to extend protection to the donor in cases where the insemination process does not involve a physician.

Ambiguity in Child Support Law for Sperm Donors

When looking at child support in these cases, the level of involvement a donor has in the child’s life and the relationship the donor had with the child’s mother – whether emotionally, financially or both – are the primary factors in the decision-making process.

Known donors are typically friends, lovers, or acquaintances of the mother. Some of them may want to become involved in the child’s life. If the donor wants to be involved, there is a stronger case to impose child support, depending on the level of past financial and emotional support provided by the donor to either the mother or the child.

Unknown donors are typically individuals who donate sperm to a sperm bank or fertility clinic. They often wish to maintain anonymous, avoiding contact with the mother or the child. A known donor who takes no interest in a child’s life or in the life of the mother, can become an unknown donor. An anonymous donor who reveals his identity and takes an active role in the life of a child can become a known donor, raising his chances of the court requiring him to pay child support.

At the Schoenberg Family Law Group, we have experience dealing with the complexities of artificial fertility cases. Our firm builds relationships based on trust, integrity, and open communication. Every member of our legal team shares the goal of preserving our clients’ dignity through difficult and painful processes, as we strive to achieve a favorable outcome for our clients. To speak with a San Francisco child support attorney about divorce or domestic partnership dissolution, child custody, and other related issues, please contact us.