Monday 30 January 2017

Should all sperm donors be obligated for child support?

Many families today seek artificial insemination from a sperm donor, including lesbian couples, single women, and heterosexual couples in which the male does not have viable sperm. Despite the availability of sperm banks, many women prefer to collaborate with a male friend. This may include coitus (the sexual act).

There are various variables to consider when determining whether or not the biological father is obligated to pay child support to the mother.                                             

Parents are typically obligated to support a child who does not leave home voluntarily until they are 18 and longer if the person is in school or if there are extenuating circumstances, like homelessness, that makes it difficult for a youth to enroll in school.

The main variable that must be considered is—what constitutes a parent?  Obviously birth parents are the prime parents. That would also include sperm donors because without their sperm, there would be no births of children of their mothers.

However, the prime variable to consider is—are all sperm donors required by law to pay child support to the mother? The answer is not all of them.

A Sperm Donor Agreement is a contract between the sperm donor and the person seeking to use that donor’s sperm for insemination purposes, without using a sperm bank as an intermediary. The primary purpose of this document is to clearly state that although the sperm donor is the biological father, he intends to sever all legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood, including visitation access, all decisions about the child’s health, religion, schooling and as such, is relieved of responsibilities for child support, and any other forms of care.

After the mother agrees with the terms set down by the Agreement and the donor adheres to the terms of the Agreement, the mother cannot later demand child support from the donor for their child.

 Everyone must be in agreement about the role of the sperm donor (if any) in the child’s life. A lesbian couple may choose a sperm donor who is a relative of the woman not intended to give birth, so that the child will be related by blood to both women. In other instances, a trusted friend may be invited to be a donor. In either case, it is likely that the donor and the child will come into contact, and it is in the best interest of the child that the donor and potential mother (or couple) comes to agreement about the expected level of contact, if any. In some families, the donor may be treated like a special uncle, always present at birthday parties and family gatherings. The child may know from a young age that this man is his donor, and that they have a special connection. Other families choose for the child and donor to have little or no contact. There is not one right way to handle this issue, conflicting expectations lead to conflict.     

Many years ago when I was in my thirties, I was friends with a young  lesbian couple and one day, one of the women told me that her partner would like me to have sex with her so that she could have my child. I declined the offer for two reasons. The first was I didn’t wish to be saddled with child support for a child I didn’t have living with me (despite their promise that they wouldn’t seek child support from me) and the other reason was that I didn’t want to wonder what happened to the child if they moved from the city we lived in or alternatively, simply disappeared somewhere in the city we live in. 

Years later, I married a beautiful Japanese woman and we have two daughters and five grandchildren. I don’t have to wonder what has happened to my daughters because for years, every Tuesday, they and their children come to our home for supper.      

If a friend of a woman who seeks his sperm is willing to give it either artificially or by coitus; there should be a written agreement between them. It should include the following;

·        Do both sides agree that the sperm donor will never have financial responsibility of any kind?
·        Do both sides agree that the sperm donor will relinquish all legal parenting rights, including decision-making about the welfare of the child, or formal visitation rights?
·        Will the donor have a relationship with the child? If so, how often will the donor visit the child? (Occasionally is not specific enough. Once a week? Several times per year?)
·        What will the child call the donor?
·        When will the child be told that this person is his or her donor?

Will such an Agreement hold up in court if he mother is having financial difficulties and the father is financially viable to pay child support? In my opinion, I believe that he would be liable for the child support. There is a very good reason for this.

It is because the interests of the child is prevalent in a situation such as what the two parents agreed to that can set aside their agreement that he wouldn’t have to pay child support for the welfare of his child. If the mother and child are being supported by the local Welfare Department, that institution can sue the father for the child support.

William Marotta of Kansas answered a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple seeking donated sperm. The couple, Jennifer Schreiner and her then-partner Angela Bauer have said that Marotta and Schreiner performed artificial insemination at their home. Marotta says he signed an agreement with the mother to waive his parental rights.
However, a Kansas agency says the agreement isn't valid because a doctor wasn't involved. They are right. Kansas law says a sperm donor is not the father of a child if a doctor handles the artificial insemination. At least ten other states require a doctor's involvement in artificial insemination for a sperm donor to be protected from having to pay child support, including California, Illinois and Missouri.
Nine states in the US have laws saying a sperm or egg donor is not the parent of a child conceived through artificial reproduction but Kansas is not one of them. Kansas State officials have said that the law aims to ensure that a biological father helps support a child, especially if the child is in need. In this particular case, the child is three years of age at the time of this writing.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families subsequently sued Marotta in October 2016 to force him to pay child support and reimburse the state for more than $6,000 they paid to the mother in benefits towards the support of her child after the mother Schreiner split with her partner, Bauer in 2010. In pursuing the case against Marotta, the state is reinforcing the traditional view of a family as if Marotta is a married man married to a woman who has his child.
 If he lived in the province of Ontario, Canada, there would be no question as to whether or not he had to pay child support for the child. The reason is as follows;
Nearly 20 years after Michael Ransona, gay man donated his sperm to a former female classmate, he’s being sued for child support in a potentially landmark case that serves as the first major test of a new Ontario law.

This is the first known case of a gamete donor (with either ova or sperm) being sued for support in Canada. Ranson’s lawyers are seeking a dismissal based on recent changes to family law. Their argument rests on Bill 28, which became law in December 2016 and updated family law to better address reproductive technologies such as sperm donors and surrogacy  with more clarity that was lacking when the donation was first made almost two decades ago in a California clinic. 
Ranson first met Amie Cullimore when they were in medical school and discussed the fact she wanted to have children on her own if she never married by her late 30s. He agreed to donate one day, but claims in affidavits that he never intended to be a parent. She says the opposites and felt she had “no choice” but to serve this court order and is seeking interim financial relief throughout the trial in addition to ongoing and retroactive child support. Cullimore notes Ranson has the means to support the now-teenagers — he makes more than $280,000 a year in Canadian funds  at his job at the World Bank in Europe, while she makes over $247,000 a year as a doctor in Ontario, according to court documents.

The potentially precedent setting case began in a California clinic when Ranson donated sperm that would be sent to Cullimore in Ontario. It took a few years, but eventually two children were born in the early 2000s. Ranson stayed in their lives, serving as a “benevolent uncle” in his words. But Cullimore says he “self-identified as ‘dad’” and, “They called him dad and always referred to him as their father.”
Though they’ve never lived together, or even in the same city, both parties agree that Ranson was generous finanicially over the years, supporting private school costs, at least partially paying for trips for his two children and putting $20,000 in an education savings account. But they differ on many other facts. She says his parents are like grandparents and they haven’t seen the kids since 2010.

According to Ranson, Cullimore said that she felt “obligated” to sign a written agreement giving her sole custody and all financial responsibility of his two children and that it was her idea to do so. That may be contested in court.

This particular case marks a new twist in fertility law in an age when more and more Canadians are seeking sperm and egg donors, but Cullimore’s lawyer, in an email to the National Post, said it has “nothing to do with” the fact he was a sperm donor. Instead, her case as laid out in the court documents rests on the fact he acted as their father.

And under the law that intent is crucial. Ranson’s lawyers say a case known as AA v.BB sets a precedent in Ontario common law that protects non-biological parents of children born of reproductive technologies because they intended to be parents.

In that case, a pair of lesbian mothers sued for the right to both be acknowledged as parents alongside their sperm donor and they won the right, for the first time in which more than two people can be officially recognized as parents.

Ranson’s lawyers argue the inverse of that precedent is also true. Bill 28, they write, “was designed, in part, to remedy exactly the kind of situation as the case at bar — where a gamete donor is sued for child support, let alone almost 20 years after the donation.”

Ranson’s response; “My relationship with the children is that of an uncle or friend, not that of a parent,” There is an old adage worth repeating. If a duck walks and quacks like a duck, it surely must be a duck.
Quite frankly, it is my opinion that if a man sires a child and decides to share his life with his child part time and even contributes to some degree towards the child’s support; he is playing the role of the child’s dad even if his participation in the child’s life and the financial support is limited to some degree and he refers himself to the child as the child’s uncle and friend.
In new court documents filed recently, it has been said that Ontario’s Bill 28 has made it clear that sperm donors who had no intent to parent their child are protected. They also argue the law was drafted with the intent to be applied retroactively because it’s “remedial” in nature and should be applied as such in this particular case.
It may not benefit Ranson since he more or less played the role of a dad and benefited from that role. It appears to me that he wants to suck and blow at the same time. 
Ranson also stated in his affidavit that the mother of his children got the courts involved without any prior discussion. That was a smart move on her part because if she threatened to bring him into family court, it may have been impossible to serve him the family court documents and his bank accounts may have been sent to a bank outside of Canada and subsequently out of her reach.  
What I find interesting is that the mother claims that she can’t cope with the financial burden of raising both of their children. She earns $247,000 a year as a doctor in Ontario. Did you hear it? The sound was one of my crocodile tears hitting the floor.
This trial is going to be a very interesting one. When it finally takes place, I will write another article and give you the findings of the court.
Incidentally, the Ontario  All Families Are Equal Act, stirred a lot of controversy over the idea that it erased the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from the law and birth certificates. But the sweeping Bill also made many changes to strengthen and update family law for the age of reproductive technologies.
Some people said the bill prevented people from being called mothers and fathers on birth certificates. This is not the case, nor was it ever, but it has since been clarified that, while the legislation uses “birth parent” instead of mother (at least in part because of the rise of surrogacy), birth certificates still allow people to pick the titles they like.
The bill has been clarified to better protect sperm donors, whether they give a sample in a lab or in the usual way. As a spokesperson for the attorney general explained, a sperm donor whose offspring is conceived with the use of assisted technology would automatically be covered. In addition, sperm donors are protect “when a child is conceived through sexual intercourse, if, before the child is conceived, both parties agreed in writing that the person providing the sperm does not intend to be a parent of the child.”

I haven’t had as much fun writing this article since they day they ended prohibition. 

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