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Sperm donor sued for child support after 16 years

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.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Gentlemen, the world over, be warned. Don’t do informal donations. If the mother falls on hard times her promises* may not count for much and in any event the local version of CSA/CMEC may see you as a goldmine.
    In the UK don’t even do it the legal anonymous way. At 18 the child can ask for your name and if s/he can trace you you may or may not find it helpful to have a stranger appear in your life and call you Daddy. You may have a wife or partner and children who would not be pleased.
    And then there’s money. It will only take one case where a child of a donor has been brought up in difficult circumstances – above all on benefits – while the donor has prospered and the Treasury and DSS (or whatever it is called this week) will pounce and make donors liable. Retrospectively. Just like 1990 when men who had made over their houses in exchange for no maintenance were told to start paying.
    Stay away!
    *Readers with a classical education may remember the last two lines of Catullus LXX.

  2. Andy says:

    Shame she had to work 24/7.
    And now has retracted her agreement..funny that as both children are classed as teenagers isn’t it a bit late to claim such support…
    Typical laws give rise to the incompetence of it all.
    Just think if this was a food product that you had purchased.kept on a shelf for some years then took it back for a full refund..they would think you are an idiot in the shop..not in this case, some one has to pay,so why now…

    Open the story the mother can’t afford her standard of she goes after the donor…seems the laws in all country’s spell the same issues…if you wear a skirt you get paid more…
    And it is deemed satisfactory to do so and back dated…

    I hope the donor wins the case if proven on a legal document..and if so sues the w
    Mother for just as much…suppose she ain’t got any money…justice what justice.

  3. Hayley says:

    I was with a ex partner we chose to have a child together with my best friend being the donor big big mistake child is 7, she didn’t allow me to see the child after 3mths and now she has gone CSA for my best friend to pay, we are hoping to we can find a good solicator to fight are case. Please there needs to be a law on this that donors should not have to pay

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