Sperm Donor Ordered to Pay Child Support 18 Years Later

Newsday reports on a recent Nassau County Family Court ruling that found a New York physician who said he donated sperm to a female co-worker as a friendly gesture is the legal father of an Oregon boy and must pay child support to the college-bound 18-year-old teenager.

In 1988, a New York doctor donated his sperm to a lesbian couple who wanted a child. Regardless of your position on this kind of stuff, it was an altruistic gesture. Probably because he had some affection for the woman, he never put in writing that he would have no legal rights or obligations regarding the child.

The lines between sperm donor and father were first blurred when the doctor allowed his name to appear on the boy’s birth certificate, an unusual choice he decided upon so that the boy would have a better sense of his identity as he got older. The nature of the relationship became even hazier in the following years as the doctor kept in contact with the child, sending him gifts and money and even cards that he signed “Daddy” or “Dad.” (If you are thinking this is all very strange, I’m right there with you.)

According to a New York Supreme Court judge, these interactions between the two mean that the doctor is the legal father of the 18-year-old boy and he is bound to pay child support until his 21st birthday. In the absence of any written documentation, the doctor’s agreement with the boy’s mothers that he would have no legal rights to the boy has no legal bearing on the situation.

If it was not for the bizarre sending of cards that he signed as the boy’s “Daddy,” you would certainly think that this was a remarkable double cross because – again, rightly or wrongly – he was trying to do them a favor. You might wonder why a waiver might not come into play, given that the mothers waited over 18 years to enforce their rights. While I’m not a family or domestic lawyer, my guess is that the right technically belongs to the child who cannot waive his rights.