Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lost Boys: Jason Patric, Sperm Donors, Surrogates and Parenthood

Paternity and Divorce attorneys are a twitter.

Jason Patric, best known as the star of "The Lost Boys, has dated some of the most glamorous starlets of the past two decades. But, it's his role as a father that has most recently launched public scrutiny into some of the most private aspects of his life.
Three years ago Patric’s former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, asked him to help conceive a baby.
In a television interview with 20/20, Patric admitted: “I’ve been in a lot of relationships.” "I was always worried about having a child. ... But I was with someone, and I was at a certain age, [with] someone that I trusted and I loved. And so I said, 'Well, we can try this route.'"
A year later, their son, Gus, was born through the miracle of in vitro fertilization and for the next two years, Patric says, he was at the house every day.
But while Patric’s love for his son grew, his relationship Schreiber spiraled in the other direction.
Patric maintains that he has always had every intention to maintain a parenting relationship with the child and maintains that he never would have agreed to participate in IVF had he known Schreiber might not have wanted him to be the father. He maintains that he was always going to be the intended parent and so indicated on the IVF form on which he indicated that he was the intended father.
In 2012, Patric filed a petition to establish paternity. He lost in the trial court, which denied Patric custody and visitation of his four-year-old son, Gus, based on a California statute that provides that sperm donors do not have parental rights or responsibilities. But the case took a recent twist when the California Court of Appeals distinguished the case from a true sperm donor situation, upholding the paternity rights of a sperm donor who has demonstrated a close and committed relationship with his child.
The decision set a new legal precedent in the state for the rights of sperm donors. Interpreting state family law, California courts had never recognized a right of a sperm donor who isn’t married to the mother to make a paternity claim. “[A] sperm donor who has established a familial relationship with the child, and has demonstrated a commitment to the child and the child’s welfare, can be found to be a presumed parent even though he could not establish paternity based upon his biological connection to the child,” wrote Justice Thomas Willhite of the Second District Court of Appeal.
Patric’s victory could have implications beyond California, according to various law professors and practitioners. Georgetown University’s Jeffrey Shulman described it as an “important decision” for fathers’ rights.
“It serves as a cautionary note to mothers that there’s more than one route to seek paternity,” Mr. Shulman said.
Ms. Schreiber in court papers pointed to a California statute restricting the parental rights of sperm donors. That statute was intended to allow men to donate sperm without fear of liability for child support. But the appeals court said that the statute had been applied too broadly. In the case of Mr. Patric’s custody dispute, the court said, it was supplanted by another law that says a father is presumed to be the natural parent of a child if the parent “receives the child into his or her home and openly holds out the child as his or her natural child.”
The ruling “confirms the idea in the law that a biological parent can seek to establish a paternal right on the basis of having seized the opportunity to act like a parent,” said Mr. Shulman.
The ruling could also have repercussions for an unexpected population — women who use fertility treatments. Legal experts say the ruling could lead to changes in cases in which a man donates sperm to a woman he knows and then maintains a relationship with the child.
Patric's legal victory doesn't just impact heterosexual couples; it could also affect same-sex couples who have friends or acquaintances serve as sperm or egg donors.
The decision doesn't completely resolve Patric's fight to reunite with Gus. The "Lost Boys" actor must still prove to a Los Angeles judge that he qualifies as a father through his actions.
But the ruling definitely portends problems when a man donates sperm to a woman he knows or when a woman donates and egg to a person she knows then, as in Patric's case, begins to establish a paternal relationship with the child.
The ruling should prompt women receiving sperm donations, women receiving egg donations and surrogates for individuals they know should think twice about whether they maintain a relationship with the donor. Doing so could lead to to being designated later by a court to be a parent.
In the wake of the ruling, one should have to have a clear understanding from the minute the child's born, and even before, about what relationships are allowed with the child. Once you start the relationship, the court is going to allow the relationship to blossom.
No doubt the case is rare, but the scenario is likely to come up more frequently as reproductive technology advances and more same-sex and unmarried couples employ the procedures to start families.  And women won't be the only ones having to make difficult decisions at the fertility clinic. The key will be establishing immediately that you want to be the parent of the child.
By: Robert R. Beauchamp
Law Office of Robert R Beauchamp
23120 Alicia Pkwy
Second Floor
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Tel:  949-370-8000
Fax: 855-370-8100

1 comment:

  1. Is Jason Patric a sperm donor or a father? The California Court of Appeals says the trial court should find out.