Even in recent history, pinpointing parentage was usually an easy task. But given technological advances with conception, including artificial insemination, surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation, determining the legal father of a child may no longer be such a simple question. The matter is even further complicated by a new trend of non-anonymous sperm donation. Michigan men and women who are considering anonymous or non-anonymous donation for whatever reason should pay close attention to the surrounding legal issues.
One such case has taken center stage in the legal community. It involves a paternity dispute between movie star, Jason Patric, who is best known for his role in “The Lost Boys” and Danielle Schreiber, who is from a prominent family on the East Coast. The two first met in 2002. They dated on and off but eventually decided to have a child via in vitro fertilization in 2009 when they were no longer romantically involved. Schreiber gave birth to a boy, Gus.
After their son’s birth, the two apparently started dating again. According to Patric, he played the role of Gus’s father until 2012 when the couple officially broke up. Patric filed a paternity lawsuit asking for shared child custody, and that’s when Schreiber reportedly started to prevent Patric from visiting Gus. She also filed a restraining order against Patric, a move that the father says was part of greater legal machinations.
In the courtroom, Patric displayed forms that he signed at the sperm donor clinic titled “intended parent.” But the mother claims that Patric asked to be left off the birth certificate and that she did not ever mean for her former boyfriend to have parental rights.
Schreiber won the initial case but the father appealed and the pair is expected back in court shortly.
Before couples go down the road of sperm donation, it is important to understand the Michigan laws surrounding sperm donation and paternity. Thorough research and preparation can prevent many unfortunate situations where a parent is disallowed parental rights; it may also prevent a father from unexpectedly owing child support.
Source: The New York Times, “Does ‘Sperm Donor’ Mean ‘Dad’?,” Brooks Barnes, May 2, 2014.