Who’s Your Daddy? Exciting Changes to CA Assisted Reproduction Law

We have all heard the horror story of the Kansas Craigslist sperm donor ordered to pay child support. If you have not, here’s a brief recap: Two lesbian women were in a committed relationship and in order to save costs, decided to advertise on Craigslist for sperm donation rather than use private sperm donation (which can be pricey). Makes sense right? — you get the benefit of meeting the donor in person and get a sense of who they really are. Flipping through a portfolio can be disheartening and perhaps not provide a realistic portrayal of the person’s character/physical characteristics (i.e. photoshop).
Mr. Marotta responded and later donated sperm on several occasions, eventually resulting in pregnancy. As life will have it, the couples separated only a year after the child was born and one party later applied for welfare benefits for herself and the child. Mr. Marotta’s identity was later discovered and the Kansas Department of Children and Families filed to establish paternity and request support EVEN THOUGH both women acknowledged their maternity and that he was a simply “donor.” While this case was decided in Kansas, the same result could have easily occurred in California.

Until recently in California, any party donating sperm not through a doctor or sperm bank was at risk (however small) of later being considered a father and becoming liable for child support. Prior law required all donation be done through either a sperm bank or treating doctor to dispel with parentage.

On January 1, 2016, major changes (that should have probably happened sooner) went into effect. New law provides that NO DOCTOR IS REQUIRED TO ENSURE A DONOR WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED A FATHER. Certain precautions are still in place. Specifically, there still needs to be either a written document providing that the donor will not be a parent that is signed before the child is conceived OR a court finding that the child was conceived through assisted reproduction and the donor and recipient had an oral agreement that donor would not be a parent before the child was conceived. Sorry to disappoint all those one-night stands/deadbeat fathers out there, but you are not going to be able to claim to have “donated” your sperm.

Another big development in the law is the inclusion of egg donors in the Family Code (previously there was no mention of egg donors). The law now provides that a woman is not a parent when she donates eggs to someone other than her spouse. There is an exception, however, that upon satisfactory evidence that the donor and recipient intended donor to be parent. Furthermore, when a woman donates eggs to her spouse, both women are now presumed to be parents.

EVEN THOUGH it appears these bright lines rules provide major protections to you and your family, it is still important to memorialize your intentions. This can be completed several ways. The code now provides a sample form or, for more specific provisions, you can contact an attorney to assist you.

As a reminder, it is still recommended to obtain an adoption or parentage judgment. While California law may recognize your parentage, this does not mean other states or countries will. When it comes to family better to be safe than sorry!

**Please note that this blog pertains to existing California law. and is meant for informational purposes only. Please do not make decisions that will affect your future based on things you’ve read on our website. Instead, consult with a Certified Family Law Specialist – It doesn’t have to be us, but be sure to seek out sound legal advice that pertains specifically to the facts of your case.

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