What a difference a year makes in this high profile custody dispute.
Last February, a judge told actor Jason Patric he had no visitation rights to see Gus. As the judge saw it, Gus is a four-year-old boy conceived via artificial insemination using Patric’s sperm to impregnate Danielle Schreiber, his ex-girlfriend.
The couple, together for nearly a decade, encountered their periodic breakups.
Nevertheless, after Gus was born, Patric and Schreiber raised Gus for more than a year together. Since that time, they parted ways for good.
After calling it quits, it appears Patric wasn’t prepared for Schreiber’s refusal to see Gus. Patric has maintained and fought that he’s not only Gus’ biological father, but a true father in every way.
Correspondent of Good Morning America, Cecilia Vega reports, “Patric has ammunition which includes forms he signed at the sperm clinic promising ‘an intent to parent.’” She continued, “He is seeking full custody.”
On the flipside, in the same article it reads, “In a statement to ABC News, Schreiber said Patric offered to donate sperm after the two broke up ‘under the express condition’ that it be kept secret and ‘that he would not be a father to or have any obligations, rights or responsibilities for my child.’”
Schreiber and her legal team also have let the courts know that Patric did not sign Gus’ birth certificate.
Now, let’s rewind back to last February when the legal battle encountered its first huge stumbling block.
Co-authors Snejana Farberov and James Gordon of The Daily Mail reminded readers in its recent article, “the actor lost a court battle to gain visitation rights with Gus under a California law that grants the mother full custody in the absence of a written agreement establishing parental rights.”
Since this Los Angeles Superior Court ruling, Patric has not seen Gus for more than a year.
Remember earlier when I mentioned what a difference a year makes? Well, it did. The tide has turned in Patric’s direction since the trial reversal last week.
The co-authors continued, “California appeals court judge Thomas Willhite says that the presumption against in-vitro fathers shouldn’t be ‘so categorical,’ and that the family law code ‘does not preclude a donor from establishing that he is a presumed father.’”
Am I surprised of this reversal? Not really. Patric and his legal team had a great deal of evidence which supported that he was a “presumed parent” under the UPA (Uniform Parentage Act).
Now, since the California Appellate Court has reversed the lower court’s original decision, legal maneuvers can motor forward. With the trial back on track, it can be determined whether or not Patric is Gus’ legal father and if he can be granted custody.
While Patric is embroiled in a heated custody dispute, all of this raises questions regarding sperm donation in terms of “parental alienation.”
According to Anthony McCartney, AP Entertainment writer for his article titled, “Actor Jason Patric’s custody case ruling may impact other dads,” he highlights how this custody battle may have an impact for women using fertility treatments.
McCartney writes, “Legal experts say an appellate court ruling issued Wednesday in favor of Patric’s fight to regain visitation with his son could lead to changes in cases like his, in which a man donates sperm to a woman he knows and then maintains a relationship with the child.” He adds, “And Patric’s legal victory doesn’t just impact heterosexual couples; experts say it could also affect same-sex couples who have friends or acquaintances serve as sperm donors.”
It’s a new, modern America out there which means fatherhood — and parenthood — is being redefined. While the law is intended to define and protect those who use assisted reproduction techniques, it looks like modern parenthood and coupling (Conscious uncoupling anyone?) require a rewrite.