Does Texas Law Assign Parental Responsibilities to Sperm Donors?
After a 2014 case in Kansas court found that a sperm donor must pay child support in spite of a clear contract that provided the donor with no paternal rights or responsibilities, it is natural for anyone considering donating sperm to question his parental future. That case involved a private donation as opposed to a sperm bank, and it included some specifics that are not prevalent in every case.
Even though Texas laws differ from Kansas laws, each Dallas family law attorney at GoransonBain Ausley believes it makes sense to seek legal advice before entering into a private donation contract.
Texas Law Establishes Paternity Under Specific Conditions
Texas Family Code (Section 160.204) provides very specific conditions that create a presumption of paternity, including the following:
- A child is born during a marriage between the mother and the presumed father.
- A child is born before the 301st day after the termination of the marriage between the mother and presumed father, even if the marriage is declared invalid during that time period.
- A father voluntarily asserts paternity even if he marries the mother after the birth and he either (1) files the assertion in the vital statistics unit, is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the birth certificate, or (3) he promised in a record to support the child as his own.
- A father continuously resides in the household of a child for the first two years of the child’s life, representing to others that the child was his own.
None of these conditions applies to a private sperm donor who enters into a contract that ends the father/child relationship beyond the point of donation. That said, the law adds additional complications to the question of accepting or denying paternity.
A Single Loophole Can Lead to Surprises
In the Kansas case, the Department for Children and Families initiated the suit when the mother applied for aid from the state after losing a job. The biological father was held financially responsible simply because someone other than a licensed physician performed the insemination. This same finding would hold true in California and Pennsylvania. In New York, any private sperm donation contract is not enforceable since the courts look only at the best interests of the child.
Texas Assisted Reproduction statutes differ from the statutes in other states, and the Kansas case might have had different results in a Texas court. However, the Texas laws (Tex Fam Code Secs. 160.751 – 160.763) have their own complexities that could affect the rights of sperm donors or even married couples who use a sperm donor to add children to their families. As an example, a gestational agreement is only valid if a court enters an order validating the agreement (Tex Fam Code Sec 160.756 (c)).
Every case is unique, and individuals on both sides of a private sperm donation contract should seek legal advice before entering into a contract that might have a profound effect on their own lives and those of the children. Contact an experienced Texas family law attorney at GoransonBain Ausley to learn how to protect your legal rights.
This post was written by Thomas P. Goranson.
“In my experience, seeking to destroy the other side simply does not garner the best results. The wisest and most productive approach is to help clients find the best solutions, while keeping matters under control.” – Tom Goranson