As Washington residents probably know, family law can be confusing. In particular, it may puzzle some readers as to why a state would even think of suing a sperm donor for back child support when he had no intention of actually fathering the child. Yet, after a mother filed for financial assistance from another state, a family law conflict involving this exact scenario ensued.
In 2009, the man answered an ad from a lesbian couple looking for a sperm donor so they could have their own child. The man agreed to donate for free. In exchange, he gave up any rights to paternity and signed an agreement stating that he would never be held liable for any child support payments.
That agreement was unquestioned until one of the women fell on hard times and filed for assistance from the State of Kansas, where the episode took place. The state demanded to know who the father was and the woman revealed the sperm donor's name. He was then sued for child support.
According to the state, the state need not abide by the parties' agreement because the artificial insemination was not performed by a licensed medical professional. However, the father contends that if this is the law, then any woman could inseminate herself and collect child support.
This episode helps to illustrate the legal significance of paternity. Far more than just a name on a birth certificate, paternity can affect legal determinations regarding child support, a child's right to inherit from a father and access family medical information, file a wrongful death claim if the father dies, and even collect certain benefits like worker's compensation on the father's behalf.
For all of these any many other reasons, individuals may wish to seek the advice of a legal professional who specializes in family law before making any decisions or signing any agreements related to paternity issues. Agreement enforcement may become more complicated than anyone could otherwise predict.
Source: The Kansas City Star, "Kansas pursues child support from sperm donor," Dec. 29, 2012