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In vitro fertilization: What parental rights might a donor have?

In California, an actor is fighting not just for a chance to have a relationship with his child but for acknowledgment that he has parental rights at all. His plight is one that is more common across the nation than one might think. Parents in Ohio could face this issue as well.

In this case, there was really no doubt that the actor's sperm fertilized the egg. The problem lied with "how" it did. According to documents filed in court, the actor had donated his sperm so that his girlfriend at the time could use in vitro fertilization to have a child. The actor never married the mother but claims that he signed an "intended parent" document that signified he was not only a donor but the intended legal father as well.


Together, the actor and the boy spent life as father and son for nearly three years. That was until the relationship with the mother ended and she denied further access to the child, claiming that she never intended him to be the father. He then filed the current child custody case with the court.

In vitro fertilization is a popular mode of conception for those who cannot conceive on their own or may choose to have a child on their own. But what rights, if any, does a sperm or egg donor have to a child?

The answer to that question is one that courts have been grappling with since the technology became available. Not only have courts been forced to answer the question, but their answers are constantly changing and differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

For this actor, his answer is incomplete and his case could be affected by a proposed law in the jurisdiction. The proposed law would allow donors in the jurisdiction to seek parental rights if they can prove to a certain extent "involvement in the child's life."

For those in Ohio that have questions about parental rights in a situation involving artificial insemination, child custody attorneys are there with answers. They can certainly also advocate for a parent's rights in a court of law.

Source: The Gateway News, "Actor's Custody Case Sparks Parental-Rights Fight," Laura Olson, Aug. 13, 2013

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