Not all children are able to grow up living with both their parents, but a father’s presence can be just as critical as a mother’s role in a child’s development. When both parents are willing and suitable to be involved in their child’s life, they should fight for their parental rights. Missouri family law seeks to protect the best interests of the child and aims to support parents who prove themselves to be good parents.
In California, a particularly high-profile fathers’ rights case has gripped the media. Actor Jason Patric has been battling the mother of his son for custody since they broke up in 2012. The ongoing legal battle means he hasn’t been allowed to see his son in over a year. The boy’s mother has been withholding visits claiming that as a sperm donor, the actor has no parental rights.
The two had been in an on and off relationship, but when their son, now four, was conceived they did not consider themselves as a couple. After the child’s birth, the pair got back together for a time, and a document presented in court indicated that the child may have learned to refer to the actor as Dada. However, since the breakup, the mother has indicated that she had not intended for the actor to have any legal rights to the child.
The baby was born as the result of artificial insemination and this is where the legal confusion starts. One statute suggests that the actor loses his parental rights as a result of having donated his sperm via a doctor. However, a conflicting ruling indicates that he may have established rights as a father by treating the boy as his son.
The matter is still ongoing and although it is occurring in another state, confusion over sperm donor legislation concerns families across the United States, including Missouri. If you are considering donating, it is important to understand state laws on the matter. This applies whether you are hoping to still be identified as a father, or if you want to ensure you will not be called upon for child support. An attorney can help you understand what your rights and obligations may be so you can make an informed decision before you donate.
Source: The New York Times, “Does ‘Sperm Donor’ Mean ‘Dad’?,” Brooks Barnes, May 2, 2014