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Sperm donation may lead to family law issues in California

Family law issues often can become complex, especially if a child is concerned. Family law concerns may be even more complicated in nontraditional families, especially those that arise from modern forms of technology.

A case in point involves a sperm donor and a lesbian couple in Kansas. The trouble arose when the state of Kansas sued a 46-year-old man who had donated his sperm to a lesbian couple in 2009 so that the couple could have a child. Kansas officials are now attempting to force the sperm donor to pay child support so as to reimburse the state for more than $6,000 in assistance that the state provided to the child's mother after she split from her female partner.

All parties -- the sperm donor and the lesbian couple -- had signed an agreement at the time of the donation that stipulated the man had no rights or responsibilities for the child, who is now 3 years old. However, Kansas officials are claiming that the agreement became void because the artificial insemination happened without the involvement of a physician. Under Kansas law, a sperm donor is not the legal father of a child if an artificial method of conception has been performed by a doctor. Several other states, including California, have similar laws about sperm donation and artificial insemination. However, these laws do not specifically address cases in which a physician is not involved.

The case raises concerns about nontraditional family matters. The concept of family is evolving over time, but the rules and guidelines on artificial methods of reproduction have lagged behind. Now couples who prefer to undergo artificial insemination or surrogacy may think twice before doing so. The fact that these artificial methods cannot determine the child's legal status as well the parties' respective legal obligations can make the future consequences of engaging in such arrangements more difficult.

Source: NY Daily News, "Kansas man who donated sperm to lesbian couple being sued by state for child support," Jan. 3, 2013

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