It is happening with more and more frequency…someone knocks on the door and announces him or her self as the child of the man answering the door. DNA and the rise of Ancestry.com and the like have created this potentially awkward moment over and over again. In many cases it is a beautiful moment. I have read cases, where strong bonds have been formed between the man and the child. I have even read about cases, where the mother and the man have married or are living together. But what are the legal ramifications to the donor. Typically, he went to a sperm bank or infertility clinic, and didn’t want to be found out.
State law on the issue varies. About two-thirds of states (including Texas) have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA). The UPA establishes that any male who provides sperm under the guidance of a physician for purposes of artificial insemination is not the father unless he is legally married to the recipient. Therefore, if there is no legal marriage, the male who provided the sperm is not legally obligated to perform fatherly duties such as paying child support. However, most states adopting the UPA have not been willing to extend protection to the donor in cases where the insemination process does not involve a physician.
In many cases, the donor is known, and in those cases, an agreement should be put in place so the parties intentions are clear. Without an agreement (and perhaps even with one if the donor become active in the child’s life) a court will typically rule based on the best interest of the child, and that could mean child support payments.