Sperm Donors Responsible for Child Support?

Here’s an interesting one. If someone donates sperm (through any means) for the purpose of impregnation, should the donor be liable for child support? From UPI:

An Illinois woman said in court the father of her twins should pay child support even though the man who donated sperm claims he didn’t plan to become a dad.

Cook County Judge Thomas Kelley heard testimony from Christin Harris who said her ex-boyfriend was living with her and had proposed marriage.

Michael Wilford only admits to dating Harris and agreeing to be the in-vitro father, but claims he was just doing it to help a friend with a goal of being a mother, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Wilford said he was out of town on business most of the time Harris claims he was living with her, including the day he allegedly proposed.

He also said Harris tricked him into signing papers establishing paternity and responsibility of fatherhood — like child support.

When the trial resumes in August Wilford will testify why he donated the sperm but didn’t think he would be responsible for the twins.

Based on what has been reported here, it’s obviously a case of he said-she said. However, the underlying question becomes significant: If a man sells or donates sperm through a traditional sperm bank, might he be held legally responsible for child support at a later date?

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Since the woman has sole power of discretion over getting and staying pregnant, there is no duty on the part of the donor. People who want to live on one-way streets should stop trying to drive both ways.


  2. You can bet that sperm banks have a well worked-out release form or contract about this issue. In this particular case, it appears Dad did not get the deal in writing so there’s no way for us to tell.

    In the case of a sperm bank, the woman does have sole responsibility, obviously.

    Another interesting issue is whether you can hold a parent financially responsible while at the same time denying them the enjoyment of their rights as a parent. Freedom/rights and responsibility go together. A case could be made that anyone deprived of rights is also excused from further responsibility.

    A financially responsible parent ought not to be denied enjoyment of their rights as a parent (in the absence of other issues or criminal acts). Further, I would expand “financially” to include any other form of providing for a child.

    All of that said, common sense must be used to arrange what’s good for the child, emotionally, and every other way, as well.

  3. I seem to recall that exactly this has been done in a few cases. I could be wrong, though.

    The one item I do find an “appeal” with is the man being required to pay child support for a child he did not know at the time of conception was a biological possibility… the so-called “men’s rights case” fella.

    From what I’ve heard, she told him that she was sterile, and further was on the pill anyhow.

    What I recall most singularly was a clip from the Dr. Phil show where the guy was explaining these things, and Dr. Phil made him look like a selfish ass, because “you stuck it in; that means you made the choice to get her pregnant!”

    … Just reinforced how much of a schmuck I think that guy is. (Being generous btw)

  4. Embryo imbroglio
    The number of custody disputes involving frozen embryos is increasing, but the law remains unclear on the issue.
    THE TIMES nj.com

  5. Ian C: Just reinforced how much of a schmuck I think that guy is. (Being generous btw)

    Glad to hear that at least some people are not taken in by Dr. Phil.

  6. Very simple solution: If you want to “donate” your sperm, have an attorney draw up a waiver of any responsibilty for the mother and children.