Sperm donors fight for parental rights

Families come in many forms, and children now have same-sex parents, single parents, and various parenting arrangements. Sometimes same-sex marriage and other types of parenting arrangements require the help of a sperm donor. In New Jersey, sperm donors waive their child custody rights, but that may change.

Now that many children are conceived with the help of sperm donors, California is considering legislation that would enable men who have fathered a child through sperm donation to seek parental rights. If the bill is passed, it could prove disruptive for children whose fathers suddenly want to be involved in their upbringing.

However, the number of sperm donors who want to be involved in their children’s lives may be small. In many cases, they may want to remain anonymous, especially if their sperm have produced several children. If sperm donors are able to share custody of their children, they may also be responsible for making child support payments.

Gay rights advocates have argued on opposite sides of the issue. Some women’s rights advocates allege that allowing sperm donors to have parental rights would undermine women’s right to raise children without men. Even if the law is passed in the state, sperm donors would not automatically have parental rights; they would merely have the opportunity to seek shared child custody and visitation. State legislators across the country may also raise the issue in their states.

Children are generally happier and healthier when their parents act with the children's best interests in mind. Biological and adoptive parents who are dealing with child custody disputes may want to work with an attorney.


The Fresno Bee, “Sperm donor or dad? California lawmakers consider the question,” Laurel Rosenhall, June 29, 2013