"The Lost Boys" actor Jason Patric is in a heated battle with his ex-girlfriend to determine whether certain sperm donors should be granted parental rights.
Patric took his case to California lawmakers after the ruling of a judge stated that he had no rights to his son Gus, age three, who was conceived with ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, through in vitro fertilization.
The couple's views differ on what role Patric was to play in the child's life. Patric said he signed an "intended parent" document and spent significant time with his son until his access was cut off by Ms. Schreiber. Schreiber's attorney contends that Patric's involvement was based on the couple dating and not as the boy's intended father.
The couple never married and their split led to a custody case. Under a 2011 California state law, a judge ruled that Patric fits the definition of a sperm donor and has no legal rights as the boy's father. The author of that law, Democratic Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo, CA, is now trying to clarify his previous statue so unmarried men who contribute to assisted reproductive methods are not unfairly denied their parental rights.
California state bill SB115, carried by Senator Hill, would allow a man, whose sperm was used in artificial insemination, to ask the court for parental rights if he can show that he has a certain level of involvement in the child's life.
"This bill does not give me my son back," Patric said to the Associated Press in an interview. "This bill allows me to come into a court of law and say, 'This is my son.'" Patric is expected to testify in support of the legislation during an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing.
Opponents, on the other hand, have written letters to the committee arguing that the rights of same-sex couples or single mothers who use sperm donors to conceive could be negatively affected. They argue that the standards for involvement in the child's life are too broad under the bill and that it could upend existing relationships between women and sperm donors if the donor later decides to seek a legal role in the child's life.
In April 2013, the legislation was approved by the California Senate with no opposition. However, the state's chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers, and lawyers representing Ms. Schreiber are now raising questions about the bill's timing and potential consequences.
· Schreiber's attorney Fred Heather criticized the legislation because it would make mothers vulnerable to unnecessary lawsuits;
· Leaders of the Legislature's Women's Caucus and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus have asked Mr. Hill to pull his measure for further discussion;
· Other critics insist the bill be put on hold until Patric's legal case, which is pending before an appellate court, has been completed;
· The gay and lesbian community is supporting the legislation, including Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Both groups said the bill strikes the right balance by requiring a donor seeking parental rights to have lived with the child and presented the child as his own. "This bill will not allow any sperm donor to seek to establish his parentage," both groups said in separate statements. "The other parent or parents would need to invite him into the child's life by allowing him to live with the child in order for this presumption of parentage to arise."
Senator Hill, in offering further amendments that would clarify the legislation, contends much of the opposition is based on an erroneous understanding of the law. In addition, he disputed that the bill was written to aid Patric's legal case. "This is truly about the modern family, and it has raised questions and issues for the courts that haven't kept up with changing times," he said.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of this bill and its effect on parental rights for fathers who are sperm donors.
If you are facing family law issue such as divorce, child custody, child support or paternity, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.
Source: Actor Jason Patric fighting for custody of son conceived via IVF with ex-girlfriend Danielle, news.com.au