Cases involving parental rights have always had the potential to be rife with complexity. In recent times, however, the capacity for such cases to be incredibly complicated has increased quite a bit due to improvements in medical technology. Such improvements have led to the development of many non-traditional ways for a child to be conceived, such as in vitro fertilization. When a child is conceived through such methods and the individual who donated the sperm for the conception is not married to the mother, many complex family law questions can arise, such as: under what circumstances is the donor allowed to receive parental rights, such as child custody and visitation rights, regarding the child?
Currently, in another state, actor Jason Patric is involved in a legal battle centered on this issue.
The battle is between Patric and an ex-girlfriend. The two were never married. The two lived together for a time, and during this time they tried to have a child, but were unsuccessful. After the two ceased living with each other, Patric agreed to allow the woman to use some of his sperm to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization.
This resulted in the woman giving birth to a child in 2009. The woman identified Patric as an “intended parent” on a form that was related to the in vitro fertilization procedure, but his name was not on the child’s birth certificate.
Patric had contact with the child until 2012, when the woman decided to sever ties with Patric.
Following this, Patric started a court case in California to fight to be recognized as the father of the child.
The lower court in this case ruled that Patric acted as a sperm donor and that a California law regarding sperm donors bars him from pursuing a paternity claim.
Patric appealed the decision. The appeals court ruled that the lower court was wrong, and that Patric was not necessarily precluded from establishing that he is the child’s father. Consequently, the court ruled that his paternity case can continue. One wonders what will happen with this paternity case as it proceeds.
This out-of-state case underscores a point that is worth noting throughout the United States, including here in Texas. This is that there are still many areas of family law that are unsettled. When in family law disputes or matters involving novel issues, having strong legal representation can be vital.
Source: TIME, “Lost Boys Star Jason Patric Can Pursue Paternity Claim,” Denver Nicks, May 14, 2014