When is a father not a father? In California, it can be when “his child” was conceived through artificial insemination. That’s the issue at the heart of new legislation being tracked by Hemet family law attorneys.
In vitro fertilization was recently explored for comedic effect in the Vince Vaughn movie “Delivery Man.” But it was a real-life Hollywood scenario that inspired state Sen. Jerry Hill to introduce SB 115 — a bill aimed at updating the state’s parental rights statutes to deal with modern fertility and paternity issues.
After attempting to conceive a child together without success, actor Jason Patric and his then-girlfriend turned to artificial insemination. After their son, Gus, was born, the couple eventually broke up, and Patric’s ex sued to deny his parental rights. In February 2013, her petition was granted and Patric lost his rights as a father.
Had the couple been successful in conceiving traditionally, Patric’s parental rights would be clear. But because Gus was conceived artificially and without a written parental rights agreement in place, California law doesn’t recognize Patric’s rights as a father. After being a part of his son’s life for more than two years, Patric has been relegated to the same parental status as a stranger.
SB 115 has met with mixed reactions:
- The National Organization for Women is concerned that those who conceive via sperm donation from someone they know will fear that “every time the donor comes into the child’s home, they’re in jeopardy of creating evidence in a custody battle.”
- California Cryobank, the nation’s largest sperm donor bank, says the bill could have a “devastating impact” on thousands of donor-conceived children.
- But LGBT groups Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have endorsed the bill, agreeing that parenting rights should be determined by who has acted as parents, even if they didn’t document their rights before conception.
If you have a question about parental rights or other family law issues, call for a free initial consultation.