For many couples in New York and elsewhere, the path to parenthood is not as straightforward as they may have imagined it would be. Unable to conceive naturally, many couples turn to alternative methods of having a baby. For some, surrogacy provides an option; others turn to sperm or egg donation. In all of these cases, the parents and those who assist them in creating new life intend for that assistance to end once the child is born. However, one recent child support determination suggests that intentions are simply not enough.
The case centers on a man who answered an ad seeking a sperm donor. He met the same-sex couple who placed the ad, and a child was conceived using artificial insemination. Everything seemed to go as planned until the family fell on hard times and sought financial assistance from the state. State officials required that the name of the child’s father be disclosed in order to seek his financial assistance. Regardless of the fact that the couple never intended for the donor to have any responsibility for the child, the state took steps to name him as the father.
A court recently ruled that because the parties completed the artificial insemination process without the assistance of a physician, the man does not qualify as a sperm donor under state law. He has now been names the child’s legal father, and may be required to pay the state $6,000 for the support provided to the family. He could also be held responsible for future child support payments.
This case serves as an example of the importance of completing any and all surrogacy or sperm/egg donations with a full understanding of New York law. Here, it appears that the outcome might have been far different had the parties understood the need to have their procedure attended to by a physician. As a result of their choice to handle the matter on their own, a man who intended to give the gift of a new life to a couple who desperately wanted a child may now face many years of child support payments.
Source: Time, U.S. Sperm Donor Told To Pay Child Support, David Stout, Jan. 23, 2014