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Celebrity Custody Battles – Jason Patric

Actor Jason Patric just won a major legal battle against his ex-girlfriend, as a Judge declared him to be the legal father of their four-year-old son. Jason Patric Huge Victory…Declared Legal Parent, by TMZ Staff, tmz.com, November 3, 2014. In that case, Patric had a baby with his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, but the baby was not conceived the “normal” way. Rather, Patric donated his sperm to Schreiber and a doctor artificially inseminated her.  After the parties broke up, Schreiber objected to Patric being declared the legal father of the child, citing a law which states that “if a man donates sperm to a woman to whom he is not married and a doctor facilitates the insemination, the man has no claim of custody or parental rights.” Initially the trial court ruled against Patric but, after the appellate court ruled that he should have a chance to fight for custodial rights, the trial court issued an opinion declaring him to be the legal father of the child. The parties were then ordered to try to work out a custody, visitation, and child support agreement.

 The law at issue was likely written to prohibit anonymous sperm donors from asserting custodial rights to a child, and this makes perfect sense. If a woman chooses a donor from a sperm bank, but has never even met the man, it stands to reason that that man should have no claim whatsoever to the child conceived with his sperm.  However, when the donor and the mother know each other, and plan for the donor’s sperm to be used for an attempt at conception, it makes things a little more complicated. Now that the judge in the Patric case has given him custodial rights, this opens the door for other sperm donors to attempt to obtain custody. Since the opinion in the case is sealed, it is unknown whether the Judge made a very narrow ruling limited to this case, or whether he took issue with the law in general. Either way, this case sets up a very slippery slope for unmarried people who conceive children together through artificial insemination.

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