A gay man who donated sperm to help a friend conceive two children has been sued for child support 16 years later.
The man originally met the mother at a Canadian medical school in the early 1990s and they became friends. After graduation he moved abroad while she remained in Canada. In 2000, by then a doctor, she got back in touch and asked him to make good on old promise to help her conceive a child via IVF. He agreed and she eventually gave birth to two children. Both boys are now in their teens.
It was an informal arrangement, The Montreal Gazette reports. The donor agreed to remain loosely involved in their children’s lives, he says, but not to take on the legal role of father.
After the birth of the second child, the former friends signed a legal agreement. This gave her full parental rights and reportedly also stated that she would not seek financial support from him.
The doctor lives in the eastern province of Ontario. Her recently issued claim is based on local law which holds donors liable for child maintenance if their identities are known. She also argues that the donor has played a father-like role throughout the children’s lives, giving her money and paying for the brothers to visit him in Europe, where he works for the World Bank. They also knew his parents and had a grandfather-like relationship with them she says. He even refers to himself as ‘Dad’ in emails to the children she insists.
Her filing stated:
“The Applicant Mother has tried to pay for all activities, including ongoing child-care costs of over $800 per month as she works 24-hour shifts (as a medical doctor), but she can no longer afford to do so.”
He has hired a legal team to fight her claim. One claimed to the Gazette that he was being punished for his status as a known donor, while another insisted that he would never have donated in the first place if he had known he would be held financially liable.
If the mother’s claim is successful, the donor faces having to pay “significant” retroactive child support payments.
The case continues, Meanwhile, new legislation currently at committee stage in Ontario could, if passed, give new legal protections to sperm donors within the province.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General of Canada said:
“While Bill 28 would not change the law pertaining to child support, it would amend the Children’s Law Reform Act to clarify the law regarding the parental status of all of the parties involved in conceiving a child. The bill also contains provisions dealing with persons who provide reproductive material or an embryo.”