Pregnancy

Jason Patric Given Parental Rights To Son He Fathered By Sperm Donation

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Jason PatricRemember Jason Patric? Hot vampire in Lost Boys, infamous Julia Roberts ex? The actor has been locked in a lawsuit with his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, over parental rights to a son he fathered through sperm donation in 2009 and originally wanted nothing to do with. He just won his lawsuit, which is bad news for his ex but good news for families who conceive using IVF and egg/sperm donation. Confused? Let’s break it down.

Patric and Schrieber dated on and off for years, and broke up in 2008. At the time Schrieber was trying to get pregnant with an anonymous donor, and Patric stepped in to offer her his sperm for a child, but nothing more. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be a dad.…,” he wrote her in a letter obtained by Rolling Stone. “I want you to know that if you want to use my sperm, you have my blessing. It’s all I can give you right now.”

After doing all the pre-natal care and preparation alone, Schrieber gave birth to a son, Gus, in 2009. Patric is not on the birth certificate and did not attend Gus’ birth. They did rekindle their relationship in 2011, and Patric claims that during that time he and Gus became close, their relationship encouraged by Schrieber. This established relationship is what allowed him to pursue parental rights (had he just donated sperm and never had a relationship with Gus, he would have essentially had no case).  She says Patric was abusive, and “dangerous” and they broke up for good in 2012. She got a restraining order against the actor last year. (Rolling Stone‘s detailed breakdown of the case is a must-read.)

Patric initially sued for custody in 2012, and then started his Stand Up For Gus foundation, on the premise of ending parental alienation. In 2013 a judge sided with Schrieber, but an appeal went in Patric’s favor this past May, saying that as a sperm donor he has parental rights. Last week a judge determined that Patric is Gus’ legal father, which means he can now sue for custody and visitation rights. It’s a huge win for Patric.

My heart breaks for Schrieber in this situation. She went into this believing she could have a child by sperm donor, and thought she was was protected by a California law (Family Code 7613b) that says sperm donors – known or unknown to the mother – have no claim on a child their sperm produces. But the thing about this law is that it’s outdated, and doesn’t account for or give rights to “non-traditional” families who conceive using IVF – unmarried couples, gay and lesbian families, friends donating sperms and eggs who then have a part of the child’s life.

In California, for example, legislators are working to pass the “Modern Family Act” which could help simplify the legal process for such families. Says LGBTNation: “The bill, AB2344, would expedite adoptions for non-biological parents, such a lesbian woman whose spouse gave birth to their child. The bill would remove a procedural requirement that adds a state investigation and court hearing. Non-biological parents are encouraged to formally adopt children because some states do not recognize them as parents even though California does. The bill also creates methods to clarify the financial and legal responsibilities of surrogate mothers and sperm donors. That’s an important step to prevent disputes from happening, some family law experts say.”

Our very own Megan Zander is a lawyer, and breaks down Patric’s case this way:

“He wasn’t declared the father because he was the sperm donor, he was declared the father because he can establish enough evidence to prove he had a parent like relationship with the child. The impact this has for laws in the works is that donors who maintain a relationship with the kids will have one less hurdle to cross when trying to get custody orders. By saying donors who are in contact with the kids have rights, it makes it a lower bar for them to meet to bring the case in the first place. So it does open the door for laws to give sperm donors more ” rights,” but not just because they gave sperm.”

Schreiber is now locked in a contentious legal battle with a man she claims is abusive, a man who did not initially want anything to do with his son. But the recent ruling in Patric’s favor means good things for families not covered by archaic laws that don’t consider or protect our modern, evolving family structure. Ultimately it’s a win for our culture as a whole. But it’s sad that it is born out of such a toxic situation in which the mom and sole parent is, in my opinion, being pushed aside.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

 

 

 

77 Comments

  1. ActionComics25

    November 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I don’t see how granting sperm donors any parental rights is good for parents who conceive using sperm donors, that actually seems like a bad thing to me. It seems like there are better ways to account for the deficiency in the law that don’t involve opening up the door for a stranger to parent with you.

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      It’s my understanding that it doesn’t grant random sperm donors rights (like from a sperm bank), but donors who are involved in the lives of the kids. So, if a lesbian couple uses a male friend for a sperm donor, for example, and he is involved in the kids’ lives.

    • Andrea

      November 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      If he is involved, then he is involved. If he wants rights, then he can be (by rights) in the birth certificate. Why do we need to give rights to sperm donors who changed their minds about being involved?

    • VA Teacher

      November 6, 2014 at 8:40 am

      But it would still only apply if the lesbian couple had actively participated in the child viewing the bio father as “dad.” The woman in this case pushed the kids to call him “dada”, had them sign Father’s Day cards, etc. She willingly acknowledged him in this role. That makes the difference.

    • ActionComics25

      November 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks for clarifying, that’s less bad.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      It’s not opening the door to parenting with a stranger, but it is opening the door for all the people who have ever donated gametes to a friend, and who hold an uncle or aunt relationship with the kid, to get custody later.

    • Megan

      November 5, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      But technically anyone can bring a suit to have custody. Grandparents try to do it all the time. Strangers have done it ( mentally unstable ones). It may make it easier to bring the case, but the standard the court will use to determine any actual custody orders will still be whatever is in the kids best interest.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      But not everyone can win a suit. This sets precedence so that donors can win suits for custody even when the intended parents have done nothing to merit a loss of custody.

    • Megan

      November 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      He didn’t win yet though. And a donor could have won a custody case without even addressing the donor issue. It really comes down to the relationship between donor and child.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Currently in CA, donors are not parents and having a donor agreement (even a verbal donor agreement) has meant that the donor had no parental rights, regardless of their relationship with the child.

    • Liz

      November 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Right, but your neighbor, coworker, or parent can sue you for custody, and they clearly have no parental rights (unless a judge grants them). They would need to show that they already have a parent-type relationship with your child (I actually provided a best-interest assessment to the courts in a case like this, where a pair of grandparents were awarded custody because they were already watching the child full-time due to both parents’ active addictions – but it could have been a friend or neighbor and the outcome would have been the same). So if the donor was in the child’s life in a parental capacity, then they would have the same rights to sue for custody as anyone else in that situation; if the donor was not involved in that way, they wouldn’t. I don’t think the case would have been decided this way if the mother hadn’t done so much herself to acknowledge Patric as the father, especially to the child.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      All those other cases you are talking about are ones in which one are both bio parents are in someway unfit, that’s a totally different situation.

    • Liz

      November 5, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      You’re right, they are different. I was trying to illustrate that non-parents already have the right to sue for custody under some circumstances (and maybe doing it clumsily). But in most every circumstance a sperm donor isn’t going to have a parental relationship with the child, so they wouldn’t have standing to sue.

    • Megan

      November 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Interesting. I didn’t know CA had spelled it out. Other states will look at the impact removing someone from the kids life will have vs the infringement on the parents right to say who sees their child.

    • Megan

      November 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      It shouldn’t impact situations where there is a true ” donor” someone who lends the genetic material and then walks away. But it will be helpful for people who give genetic material and had a relationship with the child and then the legal parent decides they don’t want the donor to have contact. Granting the donor parent status will allow them to have standing to try and get custody or visitation orders.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      I hope this is overturned ASAP, or open adoptions are dead in CA.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

      My understanding of open adoptions was that parents were terminating their rights as parents. Yes they could in theory have an open relationship, but that would be dictated by the parents. Meaning cards pictures etc. I would think that terminating one’s parental rights in an adoption would not be the same as establishing a parent/child relationship. In Patric’s case they dated and she encouraged him to call him Dad, they lived as a family unit. Which would not be how an open adoption situation would work. I think. I mean cases like this always open weird unexpected doors.

  2. Andrea

    November 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Wait what? No, how is this good for anyone???
    A sperm donor is a sperm donor, nothing more. This is NOT going to give people who are involved in their children’s lives any more rights. This is going to open doors for sperm donors to get sued for child support they had no intention of providing or (worse) rapists to have parental rights over a child conceived during rape.

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Nope. The legal issue is whether he was the “presumed father” under California law. You’re a “presumed father” as a sperm donor only if you “received the child into your home and held it out as your own”. Rapists and true donors will not have done that, so they won’t be legal fathers.

    • CMJ

      November 5, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      So maybe you can answer this for me…if you are a lesbian couple that is friends with the sperm donor (and the friend was a part of the child’s life) and all of of sudden the friend wants custody…would they be allowed it? Or because there are already two parental figures would the likelihood of a ruling in favor of the friend/sperm donor be low?

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      It would depend on how many parents a state lets a child have, and whether adoption by the non-gestating mother required termination of the rights of all other parents. In my state, the adoption (because this is the only way for two women to become parents here) by the non-gestating mother would cut off the rights of any presumed father. I believe there was a case a couple years ago with this situation though (New York? New Hampshire?) where the kid ended up with three parents.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      In CA there are already children with 3 parents listed on their birth certificate.

    • CMJ

      November 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Yeah…I got nothing. What a clusterfuck.

    • 2Well

      November 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Most states have child custody rights for rapists. Amending that is currently in the legislative process in many states.

  3. Rachel Sea

    November 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    This is a travesty. This is going to make it much harder for all the couples who have maintained open donations to do so safely. This means people have to choose between unknown donors, or potentially complex multi-parent custody arrangements.

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      No, the legal issue involved was whether he could show he was the “presumed father” under California law. The question therefore is whether the kid had a father (him, the bio father and, at the time he filed for custody, the psychological father), or no father. Kids in open adoptions have a legal father already- their adoptive father- so there would be no room for the biological parent to establish parentage like Jason did.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Plenty of adopted children have two mothers, and no father, but that’s beside the point. The ruling depends on a judge’s entirely subjective view of what it means to have a parental relationship. CA is one of a few states to allow more than two parents on a birth certificate, which means there is no logistical impediment to giving a child a mother and two fathers.

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      I don’t think there could ever be a mother and two fathers, because only one of those fathers could be the “presumed father” or legal father. This could, if CA allows three parents, hose lesbians, because you could have two mothers and a presumed father. But the standard isn’t a “parental relationship”- it’s “receiving the child into your home” and claiming it as your own. Also, I don’t know about CA, but in my state a second parent adoption terminates the rights of any other parent, so lesbians in CA may want to go back to doing second parent adoptions instead of listing both mothers on the birth certificate if they use a known donor who will be involved in the child’s life.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      There are children with two fathers and a mother on CA birth certificates, which do not make a distinction between biological and non-biological. All parents on the certificate are presumed, and legal.

      Same-gender parents already do both names on the birth certificate, AND second parent adoption so that travelling doesn’t mean a potential loss of custody.

      Claiming a kid as your own is a stupid standard. Plenty of assholes have claimed children as their own who had no right to do so.

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      But would the child have been “received into his home?” And a guy can’t just put his name on a birth certificate.

    • Lackadaisical

      November 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      So far it only seems to be legal recognition as father, not custody rights. Where I live that would mean an obligation to pay maintenance but I would hope the abusive history would prevent unsupervised contact with the kid. If you date the sperm donor and they develop a relationship with the kid that does complicate things. If he is abusive I hope he gets no custody but I personally think that due to his later relationship with mother and son legal recognition as father is fair. Hopefully, because of the abuse, this will give him all of the responsibility and none of the benefits because thanks to his relationship with the kid while he dated the mum he is a deadbeat dad but still a dad. If he gets unsupervised visits with the kid then due to his history as an abuser and the restraining order that would indeed be a travesty. I understand that if any sperm donor who knew the kid at all were given recognition as parent that would be bad news for those who use known sperm donors. I think even sperm donors who know the recipient well enough to fulfil an uncle role should not be granted the rights of a father in case the biological mother dies and the donor uses that recognition to rip the kid away from a partner who is also parent to the kid so I can see how it could create a minefield of complications.

  4. CMJ

    November 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    So wait – can they give up parental rights and then come back and say they want them?

    • Liz

      November 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      I think if he had formally terminated his parental rights none of this would be an issue. But parents (and I use that word loosely) can completely walk away from children and then come back, even years later, and sometimes get rights to them. In one case I saw, a man walked away from his family when his kids were very young, waited about 10 years, then sued for and was granted weekly visitation. I guess I just don’t see that as being much different from this case.

      Eta: this is true in my state, I have no idea how true it is or isn’t in other states.

    • CMJ

      November 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks. I’m just trying to wrap my head around this.

    • Liz

      November 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      I worked with the family court system for two years, then noped right on outta there. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. :-/

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:30 am

      I live in a Tri-State area and it’s true in all three. Courts really push that whole “bio family is best” bullshit.

    • Sherri

      November 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      I don’t think he did forfeit his rights – Schrieber listed them both as intended parents when she went in for the IVF.

  5. CMJ

    November 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Another question – could the mothers then sue for child support?

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      That’s a great question and I am not equipped with the answer but I’d guess that if the court grants Patric partial custody, she could then sue for support?

    • Ellefont

      November 5, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      I think Patric has been paying child support already- or trying to- since filing for custody.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

      If he’s declared a parent I would guess yes, and if he hasn’t been paying, likely back support.

  6. simpleton

    November 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Could someone give me an example for how this would be beneficial to the parent/parents (not the donor, the actual parents) ? Because I’m not really getting it.

    • Megan

      November 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Ok, say you are a lesbian couple. One mom gives the egg, the other mom carried the baby

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      This has less than nothing to do with that. That is already covered under the law, and would be improved by AB2344. This is going to fuck things up so hard…I can’t even. I’m getting a total rage headache right now.

      ETA Those are intended parents. Sperm donors are not intended parents. This ruling erases that distinction, and might even undermine parentage for non-biological partners in same-sex couples, because most states do not recognize more than two parents.

    • Sherri

      November 5, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      She signed a notice at the clinic saying that they were both intended parents, this case is about intended parents. So, despite him not being around – or being around sporadically, as Schrieber puts it – he was listed as an intended parent. So, no, this ruling does not erase this distinction, it reinforces it.

    • jane

      November 5, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      I just want to say that I totally agree with you. I think this ruling is a total disaster, and not just for gay families or open adoptions, but we’ll probably see it there first. What about a parent who starts dating someone when baby X is 1 year old, and then they break up when baby X is 6 years old. Can the ex sue for custody claiming a parental relationship? Should the kid be forced to bounce around between 3 houses for the rest of his childhood? And where does it end? Children can form almost infinite “parent-like” bonds with people who will move in and out of their lives. What about a live-in nanny? Because it doesn’t seem like the sperm donor piece here was what was critical, but the “parent-like relationship.” That is the door that shouldn’t be opened.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:28 am

      People already do that. I’ve got friends in that exact situation. Though admittedly, the other bio parent is pretty much useless so it’s 2 homes. The other the former step dad sees the kid as often as possible, helps out, goes to games, takes kiddo to dinner, buys Christmas gifts etc. They don’t make it complicated, but he has legal standing in courts because for 8 years he was married to his mother, he provided for him financially, he worked evenings so he was home with the kids during the day etc. etc. I think Nanny’s would be different because it’s an employee/employer relationship not a parental one. The Nanny is a paid caregiver, but not a parent.

    • jane

      November 6, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Right, but what this ruling does is make it more “par for the course.” Right now it would be very hard to prove in court that “former step dad” deserves custody. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it in your specific case, but that it’s a unique case. What this ruling does is it opens up the child and family to a whole host of suits. What about someone you dated for a year? What about a case where a couple broke up because non-parent X wanted to take a job on the other side of the country, and bio-parent Y didn’t want to uproot her kid? But then non-parent X sues for partial custody anyway? This ruling totally minimizes, if not negates, the “special” relationship that “real” parents (i.e. biological or adopted – the ones with rights bequeathed by the state) have with their kids. I.E. the right to make decisions about that kid that other people, even good, invested, caring people, don’t get to make. I hope it’s overturned.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:48 am

      I don’t disagree. I’m just saying this total meltdown about Patric getting custody isn’t new. There are people who have nothing to do with kids asking for custody every day. In the case of my friends a judge ruled it would do more harm than good to take away this person. My friend and his ex were eventually able to make it work, though she was understandably pissed. This isn’t going to rip custody laws open, courts still very much take it on a case by case basis.

    • simpleton

      November 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      It does. Thanks!

  7. tk88

    November 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Uh, how is this a good thing? I would be horrified if I had a child by a sperm donor–known or not who tried to claim parental rights. Sperm and egg donors should NEVER have parental rights. That’s kind of the point.

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      I’m not saying it’s good for people who have had children by anonymous donors. Also, as explained by Megan, this doesn’t give anonymous donors rights. It’s only for donors who prove they have had a role in the child’s life. But it could possibly help “non-traditional” families in the legal system and I think that’s important, even though I personally side with Schrieber in this case.

  8. Kate Spencer

    November 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve added a quote to this piece that I think help clarifies how this case could indeed inadvertently help “non-traditional” families. The full article is here: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/07/californias-modern-family-act-aims-to-bring-family-law-into-21st-century/

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      This ruling undermines the Modern Families Act. AB2344 is to protect couples who do not have equal biological ties to their children (either because of remarriage or same-sex union) from either having to jump through expensive and time consuming hoops to become legal parents, or risk losing their children if they travel to a state inhospitable to gays or divorce, and it defines sperm donors as being non-parents unless otherwise intended.

      This ruling will trash that last part of the bill. Now it doesn’t matter what the intended parents want.

    • Victoria

      November 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Not to mention what if a donor who is homophobic somehow found out his sperm was used by a gay or lesbian couple? I could imagine this being invoked…

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      If that person is not involved in the child’s life, he has no rights. This specifically relates to those who have a relationship with the cild.

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      It is my (admittedly rudimentary) understanding that Patric’s case helped to inspire this specific piece of legislature in CA, to try to implement practices that would help prevent more cases like this. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/05/20/could-a-california-bill-make-going-from-sperm-donor-to-father-as-easy-as-filling-out-a-form-not-so-fast/

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Him and a zillion other people who are in legally complicated parental situations. But the bill would do something that this ruling just screwed up, which is create a better dividing line between parents and gamete donors. If this ruling holds beyond the passage of the bill, then the line might not hold, making using known donors the least attractive option, legally.

  9. Rosa

    November 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    To me this just points out how important it is to have a legal contract stating the rights and expectations for everyone involved in the sperm/egg donation process.

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      100% this.

    • Rachel Sea

      November 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Legal contracts are only viable if the contents hold with existing law. If this ruling removes the distinction between intended and unintended parents, then all those contracts become so much toilet paper.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Yes and no. Rulings are based on everyone’s understanding of the contract at the time it was signed. Which is why contracts from 50 years ago are enforced today. Of course it’s prudent to make contractual changes based on current laws and you can’t predict legal rulings but if I put in my lease that my tenant has to pay $165 late fee and she signed it, the court will uphold that she owes me that late fee, even though it’s not typical/standard.

  10. Rumaikiyya

    November 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    First, this ruling better come with years of back child support being granted to Schrieber for the years she parented alone if Patric is going to be named the legal father. If he wants the positives, he better face the financial negatives.

    Second, I don’t think the logic is sound that the verdict improves things for non-traditional families at all. I think it just f’s up the whole donation system. Fine, Patric’s case was decided in his favor because he demonstrated he had a parent-like relationship, but the only reason he was able to bring the suit in the first place is because he was a donor. Blood kin already have good protections in place; it’s the non-blood-related parents in a non-traditional family that need the legal protection. This doesn’t protect them at all. But it does mean that anyone who uses a friend for donation and lets the friend have some form of relationship with the child now has to worry that their friend could sue at some random point.

    It also seems to open the door for any stepparent or long-term significant other to sue for custody, which I don’t think is a good thing either.

  11. Ellefont

    November 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Patric only got established as the kid’s father because 1) there was nobody else in the role, and 2) his ex let him act like a father- she’s on video telling the kid to call him DaDa, sending him Father’s Day cards, acting like a family. Most sperm donation or adoptive situations will not have BOTH of those issues. Sperm donation and adoption are still intact.

    • NotThumper

      November 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      THIS…I saw him on a talk show once where they played the videos of her with the boy and she’s encourages him to refer to Patric as Dada. Obviously there is a lot to this story, from both sides but it always seemed to me that she was just being spiteful because they had broken up.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:15 am

      I realize I might get flamed but…they were split up, she willingly took his donated sperm and got back together. For me something isn’t ringing true in the “abusive dickwad” part. I mean he seems like a dickwad so I’m ok with that, but if he’s a dbag why try to have your kid call him dad?

    • Ellefont

      November 6, 2014 at 9:18 am

      The court is still going to determine if he’s safe to see their kid. It just seems like the method of conception shouldn’t come into that inquiry. This decision just puts the kid’s best interest, rather than either parent’s “rights,” at the center of the custody decision. Which is, frankly, what should ALWAYS be front and center. The ex’s case has always been about her “right” to cut Patric out, not that it’s actually best for her kid to suddenly lose the man he thought of as his father.

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  12. Ursi

    November 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I get what you’re saying but wouldn’t it be much better to have laws in place solely for the protection of non-traditional families instead of laws that make it easier for everyone to sue for custody after the fact?

  13. CMJ

    November 5, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Oh man….that rolling stone article….

  14. Sherri

    November 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    So, according to CNN, Patric and Schrieber had attempted to conceive a child naturally before their original falling out. When he donated the sperm in 2009, Schrieber signed a document stating that they were both intended parents – she claims this was for medical consent only, but from what I can find, it was never terminated or nullified. He was in and out of the kid’s life for the first two years or so before Patric and Schrieber got back together, so he wasn’t entirely absent. He had an established relationship with the kid, one that was encouraged by Schrieber until their falling out in 2012.

    My question is this, then: is this really about a sperm donor being given parental rights, or is this just a really twisted custody case? Because if he was present and was declared as an intended parent, I’m not sure how one connects to the other? Aside from him not being listed on the kid’s birth certificate, I guess.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      November 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

      If there were papers saying both were intended parents that changes everything.

    • Sherri

      November 6, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Upon further investigation, it looks like the judges are saying that the paperwork stating intended parentship is irrelevant in this case, but that the fact that they had a parent-child relationship is driving it. Basically, I’m just going with this case is a clusterfuck.

  15. LK

    November 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    My heart does not break for Schrieber. Both of these people went about the creation of this human being and their very confusing relationship with each other/him afterwards very, very badly. I absolutely agree that it’s a vivid illustration of why more legislation is needed around all these types of issues, because people will enter into these circumstances without sufficient consideration unless they are forced. Some people deserve sympathy, but I can’t dig any up for these two. Their kid, on the other hand, I feel VERY sorry for.

  16. FF4life

    November 6, 2014 at 1:15 am

    While I’m happy that non traditional and blended families are finally starting to get the rights they deserve, I’m not happy that a man who has been accused of abuse and being violent now has the possibility of getting custody of his child.

  17. Kite

    November 6, 2014 at 2:29 am

    “an appeal went in Patric’s favor this past May, saying that as a sperm donor he has parental rights”

    “a judge determined that Patric is Gus’ legal father”

    I don’t see how this is consistent with:

    “He wasn’t declared the father because he was the sperm donor”

    and definitely don’t see how this ruling is

    “good news for families who conceive using IVF and egg/sperm donation”.

    Confused? Let’s break it down. Giving parental rights, and making Patric the legal FATHER, seems a LONG way from allowing visitation rights because he’s had contact with the child. It seems from this article that being the sperm donor had a significant role to play in this ruling.

    This is NOT good news for those who use sperm donors. Having significant contact with a child entitling eventual visitation rights, and possibly even, with sufficient contact, parental rights, makes sense, whoever that person is.

    But as a sperm donor, your role as biological “parent” should stop there and not be a privileged role by dint of wanking into a container 9 months before the kid was born, UNLESS those who bore and look after the child wish it to be a closer relationship. In which case, sure, proving you have a significant role in the child’s life should enable you to access. Or the flipside, the child is entitled to visit YOU.

    The US does seem backwards in this regard compared to Australia. My partner is a family lawyer, and we have a baby via sperm donation and IVF. We are automatically both the parents on the birth certificate. We know that if we were to give significant contact to the donor, he would (and our child would) eventually have rights to see one another, in proportion with the amount of previous contact. We would only do that if we wanted it. We are reassured that backwards laws that gives sperm donors a privileged advantage in taking on the role of legal father, no matter what we feel about it, are no longer in place. This protects lesbians. Sperm donors have NO intrinsic rights in Australia. Whereas some friends who used a friend as a sperm donor specifically gave him rights by making him the co-parent, even though he wasn’t on the birth certificate. When they fell through with the co-parent, they were legally obligated, via a court ruling, to continue to give him access, because THEY had made that choice to privilege this person as a parent originally. It could have been the donor, it could have been anyone in their life. This is fair, and means the person/people conceiving via donor have the original choice to include the donor in their lives or not, not forced by a court ruling partly because the donor is privileged by biology.

    If the sperm donor is not privileged in court rulings by biology rather than behaviour, your article certainly doesn’t make that clear.

  18. VA Teacher

    November 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Honestly, I think this case became very easy the moment the mother welcomed Patric into the kid’s life. That’s what makes it different from other situations. Saying to a child “this is daddy” and then trying to remove that “daddy” from the kid’s life (barring issues like abuse) is cruel. He wasn’t “bio father”, he was “daddy.” She made that choice in distinction.

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