A British firefighter who donated sperm to a lesbian couple whose relationship subsequently ended has been required to pay child support. He claims he was assured at the time he agreed to assist the couple that he would have no financial responsibility for the child.
Times Online reports:
Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they entered a civil partnership. At the time he was in a relationship with a woman who had been sterilised and was not planning to have children. He has since married someone else.
Unaware of the legal pitfalls, he was shocked when the Child Support Agency contacted him last November to demand payments because the women had split up. He was made to take a £400 paternity test and his pay was docked.
A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said that men who donated sperm through licensed fertility clinics were not the legal fathers of any children born as a result. “Men giving out their sperm in any other way, such as via internet arrangements, are legally the father of any children born, with all the responsibilities that carries,” he added.
The CSA said that, unless a child was legally adopted, both biological parents were financially responsible. “The Child Support Agency legislation is not gender or partnership based,” a spokesman said. “Only anonymous sperm donors at licensed centres are exempt from being treated as the legal father. This does not apply to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement.”
UPDATE: December 5, 2007 - Mother says "sperm donor's" story untrue, claims he participated actively in child's life.
Ms Arnold had two children by Mr Bathie – a girl, aged 2, and a boy, 4, who is disabled. She said that the initial arrangement was for him to be a donor only. “I will openly admit to that, but it was him that changed his mind. He wanted to be involved, he wanted to be a dad. Who was I to stop him? I believed it would be beneficial for my children to have their father involved.”
Far from never seeing his daughter, the fireman, from Enfield, North London, was in regular contact and looked after her one weekend every month, Ms Arnold said. “Every time she needed something he was there. He paid for things, he helped me out.”
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto