Ask Katrina – Sperm Donor Rights

Today’s Ask Katrina comes from a law student who’s been studying the legal ramifications of sperm donation in her family law class.

Noelle writes:

Dear Katrina,

I am a paralegal student (in California) and in my family law class we have been discussing parental rights. With the issue of sperm donors, there has been a lot of disagreement in class and among several teachers as to the privacy rights of a sperm donor.

It is my understanding that the rights of a child cannot be bargained away. If a woman knows the man that she wishes to receive artificial insemination from and contracts with him personally, that contract is not enforceable. Even if she tells him he will have no responsibility whatsoever to help the child financially or in any other way, it is not enforceable. The State does not want to have to pay, they want a known father to pay for child support, regardless of any agreement between the two parents.

If a man is an anonymous donor at a sperm clinic, such as California Cryobank, his contract is with the clinic, and I am assuming protected by doctor patient privilege. He has a contract with the clinic, and the potential mother will have a contract with the clinic. They will never know each other personally.

The arguments we are having here in school is whether that contract with the clinic is enforceable because it still pertains to the rights of the child. So far it appears that contract between the donor and the clinic is enforceable.

I have been trying to find cases to cite in which a mother who has contracted with a sperm clinic for an anonymous donation, received successful insemination, and 5 or 10 years later wants to sue the anonymous donor for child support. I have not found any that relate to that specifically, only to donors and donees who knew each other, and to anonymous donors in which there was a health issue involved. I only found one case related to what I was looking for in England … I am interested in a case within the United States, more specifically in California. (I also read Ferguson v. McKirnan, and that pertained to a known donor in Pennsylvania.)

In conclusion, my questions are these: Are the contracts with sperm clinics pretty iron-clad, under doctor-patient privilege? Do you know of any cases in which a mother attempted to sue an anonymous sperm donor for child support? Is such a suit even possible? I am wondering how to defend an anonymous sperm donor from being sued for child support.

Any information you could provide in this area would be greatly appreciated.

So readers – can you help Noelle our with her question? As always, there is no attorney-client relationship formed via Lawdragon and we are NOT a referral or similar service. Lawdragon exists to help those who need a lawyer get access to one. Thanks and have a great day!


One response to “Ask Katrina – Sperm Donor Rights

  1. I am living a nightmare now.
    Around 4 years ago, I met this lesbian and we wanted to have a child together.
    I am a gay man. We had intercourse for 4 months. She was 42 at the time and could not cenceive naturally.
    We went to a doctor and introduced ourselves as a ‘ married couple’, so I wasn’t treated as a donor in any way, such as procedures and documentation and concents.
    She got pregnant, child was born. My name is on the Birth Certificate AND Declaration of Paternity. My son has my middle initial name.
    I see my son 2 days a week and VOLUNTARITY pay Child Support
    My son is 1 year now and my relationship with the mother – and her girlfrind, has deteriorated.
    Now, she calls me a ‘ Know Sperm Donor”, and the only think she tells me is about the California Family Code 7613 (b), which says ” man who provide sperm to a doctor, and this man is not the woman’s husband, he is not considered the Legal Father of the child.
    How about the Legal Documents she signed AFTER BIRTH?

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