Jason Patric’s recent win to regain visitation rights with his four-year-old son, Gus, may be a game changer not only for the actor, but for other fathers who donate their sperm to women they know for in vitro fertilization (IVF). And even more so, if the man continues a relationship with the child after it’s born.
In a recent article published by AP Entertainment, author Anthony McCartney writes, “A ruling in actor Jason Patric’s custody battle could have repercussions for an unexpected population – women who use fertility treatments.”
As fatherhood is redefining itself in the 21st century, there may very well be “strings attached” when a sperm donor is a family member, friend, or even a casual acquaintance.
While Patric’s bitter custody fight continues, legal experts say this battle puts a spin on paternity cases which mirror the actor’s case.
“In California, sperm donors outside of marriage are assumed to have no parental rights or child support obligations. Problems arise when a man donates sperm to a woman he knows and then, as in Patric’s case, begins to establish a paternal relationship with the child,” McCartney writes.
While Melissa Murray, a professor at Berkeley Law, calls the case not necessarily ground breaking, she tells AP Entertainment legal changes should be considered. In the article, she is quoted, “I do think it will be an important decision for filling in a vacuum in the law.”
Murray goes on to say that Patric’s ruling may lead to legislative changes at the California Supreme Court if Patric’s ex-girlfriend and mother of Gus, Danielle Schreiber, pursues an appeal.
The articles continues, “Until then, she (Murray) and other legal experts think the ruling should prompt women receiving sperm donations from men they know to think twice about whether they maintain a relationship with the man.” It continues, “Doing so could lead to him being designated later by a court to be a parent.”