The complexion and genesis of the “family unit” are evolving with each passing year. And breakthroughs in medical science as well as a growing acceptance of these changes have altered the way we perceive the modern family. But the state of the law in San Diego and throughout California has not kept pace with the times and the cultural and social changes taking place. Non-traditional families sometimes face more difficult issues when it comes to divorce, custody and visitation matters. If you are confronted with a child custody matter, it is important to contact a local family law attorney who can help you to protect and advance your rights.
In a recent article appearing in the Fresno Bee, apparently the actor Jason Patric is hoping to change state law to allow sperm donors, under certain circumstances, to become legal parents and share custody of children that result from the donation of their sperm. In response to Patric’s efforts, his former girlfriend is fighting the bill, asserting that the current law protects her as the child’s only legal parent since she never married Patric and utilized a medical procedure to conceive her child.
At the heart of this dispute is Senate Bill 115. The bill would allow a man whose donated sperm impregnates an unmarried woman to petition the courts for parenting rights by establishing his devotion to the child. According to an article in the Huffington Post, the primary intent of the bill is to permit a limited category of fathers to have “parentage” rights to children who they have brought into their homes and held them out as their own. The bill passed the Senate without one oppositional vote. It is currently in the Assembly attracting some controversy.
In many states, the Uniform Parentage Act (the “Act”) governs the determination of parentage of children who are born of unmarried parents. Under the Act, if a man provides his sperm to a licensed physician, with the intent of inseminating an unmarried woman, that man will be legally barred from asserting parentage of the child who results therefrom. SB 115 would not permit any and all sperm donors to assert parentage rights. To the contrary, only those donors who have a relationship with the child are afforded rights under the proposed law. Further, according to the above-referenced Huffington Post article, the only way that these men may establish such a relationship is with the consent of the biological mother. If the bill passes, the mother would be prohibited from terminating – on a whim — the father-child relationship so long as that child was conceived via fertility procedures conducted by a licensed physician.
The current laws are fairly complicated, enabling a man who is not the biological father of the child to establish parentage, but denying the sperm donor the opportunity to do so. With this in mind, anyone with a custody question or dispute with another parent is encouraged to reach out to a local family law attorney who is well-versed in the local rules and court procedures.