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Sperm donor involved in paternity dispute

Michigan fathers may want to think twice about entering agreements that deal with artificial insemination. There may be underlying paternity implications. A district court judge recently issued a ruling that a sperm donor may be responsible for child support payments because the donor and the parents did not use a physician for the insemination process.

The ruling -- in another state -- hinged on the physician issue. According to civil lawsuit, the defendant answered an online ad for a same-sex couple that needed a sperm donor so that one of the women could get pregnant. The donor apparently did not use a physician in the process but instead delivered the samples to the couples over the course of three days.

The state's law does afford protection to sperm donors from paternity disputes and support orders but the law specifically requires the involvement of a physician. Therefore, the judge found that this father was not protected from the civil lawsuit.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the lawsuit in order to collect child support payments.

The judge must first certify the ruling before the defendant can appeal. The defendant's attorney argues that such a ruling, if upheld, could impact many more families. The defendant self-designated himself as a sperm donor and his attorney argued that this fact is sufficient enough to eliminate any parental responsibilities on behalf of the donor, whether or not the law was followed exactly.

Not all states require physician participation in sperm donor arrangements but many states do have such requirements. Before couples and male donors consider this route it is important to understand the legal implications. This could prevent being blindsided in the future by paternity issues like child custody and support.

Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal, "Sperm donor ruling certified; Marotta to appeal," Steve Fry, Jan. 27, 2014

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