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Texas sperm donor doesn't owe child support, court rules

A professional bodybuilder from Arlington, Texas, received some good news recently: He no longer has to pay child support to the mother of children born to her from sperm he donated. You may be wondering why a sperm donor would be held responsible for such payments in the first place. The circumstances of the case were somewhat unusual, but they raise the question of where fatherhood begins and ends in the eyes of the law.

The man and woman in the case met in 1991 and had a sexual relationship, but never married. After moving from Texas to California 10 years later, the woman told the man she wanted to have children and planned to use a sperm donor. He said he offered to be the donor, as long as he wasn't considered the father. She gave birth to triplets, and the man was listed on the birth certificate.

The bodybuilder married another woman later that year, but about four months later, he was sued for child support and ordered to make payments while the suit was pending. After a California judge made the child support order final, the man appealed.

The appeals court overturned the lower court's decision. After four years of paying support for the two children (the third triplet died in infancy), the man says he's learned his lesson and won't donate sperm again.

This is not to say that other sperm donors should worry about having to pay support to a mother they've never met. The appeals court recognized a California statute that allows women to receive sperm donations without worrying about the donor coming back and filing a paternity action. Because the donor isn't recognized as the father, the recipient can't claim he is for child support purposes.

Texas laws are similar in this regard; sperm donors aren't responsible for supporting any children that result from their donation. If that were the case, sperm banks probably wouldn't exist.

Source: ABC Local, "Court says Texas sperm donor owes no child support," The Associated Press, April 11, 2012

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