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California lawmakers consider sperm donor paternity issue

Many fathers who have been shut out of a child’s life may turn to family law to assert parental rights. Often, a person may have to first establish paternity of the child in order to assert any parental rights. One issue that has been cropping up in many settings is whether or not a sperm donor should have any parental rights to a child.

Many laws are involved in the wide-ranging area of family law. Years ago, the Uniform Parentage Act was devised to govern parentage issues when a child is born to parents who are not married. Individual states all across the country have implemented some form of the uniform act. Now California lawmakers are considering a measure aimed at modifying California law in the area of parental rights for sperm donors.

When the Uniform Parentage Act was first conceived, the law was intended as a form of protection for both unmarried women and women married to an infertile husband to be able to become pregnant without the sperm donor from being able to claim paternity down the road.

While that idea remains important in many instances, our culture has evolved in many ways in more recent years that can create circumstances that make the law return unjust results.

In cases where a sperm donor has actually had a relationship with the child born through artificial insemination, California lawmakers are considering allowing the biological father to be able to seek parental rights to the child. The bill seeks to modify the law in those cases where the biological father has donated sperm for a child and has had a relationship with the child with the consent of the child’s mother.

Our culture has evolved to allow a wider range of familial relationships, as more unmarried people have chosen to have children with the intent to co-parent. But, even when people initially agree to co-parent, the relationship between the adults may later break down.

In situations where a biological father has engaged in such co-parenting, the California family law measure would create a legal process for the father to assert his parental rights.

The bill, Senate bill 115, passed in late April on a 35 to 0 vote and was sent on to the Assembly.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Senate Bill 115 is Necessary to Protect Children and Fathers," Fred Silberberg, April 12, 2013