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Sperm donors face legal risks

In 2012, a Texas man successfully defended a child support claim brought by the mother of two children who were conceived with sperm he donated. In 2008, another sperm donor, who had regular contact with the children and had agreed to provide some support, lost a case brought by the children's mother for increased support. Now a third sperm donor is being pursued for child support even though the child's mother is not seeking his assistance. These cases all illustrate the importance of seeking legal advice before becoming involved in artificial reproduction.

In the most recent case, a man agreed to donate sperm to a lesbian couple that used a do-it-yourself artificial insemination kit to conceive. After the child was born and the couple broke up, the child's biological mother sought public aid for the child in Kansas, where she resides. The state then went after the sperm donor for support, arguing he is the father under state law because a doctor was not involved in the artificial insemination procedure. The case is scheduled for hearing in April.

Experts say the man did not have adequate legal protections in place before agreeing to become a sperm donor. Although the man and two women signed an agreement they thought would terminate the man's parental rights and responsibilities, their failure to seek the assistance of qualified professionals led to the man's current legal issues. A family law attorney could have advised them of the legal risks of a do-it-yourself procedure while the assistance of a doctor would have ensured the sperm donor would not be considered the father under the law.

Before becoming involved in an alternative family arrangement, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help protect against potential child support disputes and other legal risks.

Source: KLTV.com, "Kan. case highlights legal issues for sperm donors," Heather Hollingsworth and John Hanna, Jan. 3, 2013

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