Yesterday’s blog post explored a surprising decision about a sperm donor’s obligation to pay child support in Kansas. Although the Kansas Court ruled that a sperm donor was responsible to pay child support for a child conceived by a same-sex couple whom he met through Craigslist, Pennsylvania sperm donors will be relieved to find out that the same situation would likely yield very different results under Pennsylvania assisted reproductive technology law.
In 2007, the PA Supreme Court took up the very same question recently answered by the Kansas Court in Fergueson v. McKiernan: Whether a sperm donor involved in a private sperm donation may be held liable for child support, in spite of an oral agreement between the parties to forgo the right to child support. Interestingly, the PA sperm donor case involved two former lovers. Joel McKiernan (the sperm donor) agreed to provide his sperm to Ivonne Ferguson in an arrangement that would operate similar to an anonymous sperm donation. The parties agreed that theMr. McKiernan’s role would remain confidential, and that he would not seek custody of the child. Correspondingly, Ms. Ferguson agreed would never seek child support. But then, approximately five years the twins were born, Ms. Ferguson filed a motion seeking child support from Mr. McKiernan.
Although the trial court entered an order requiring Mr. McKiernan to pay child support under the rationale that the parties’ agreement was unenforceable as contrary to public policy and the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s order, the Supreme Court disagreed. The Court reasoned that because the agreement between the parties was negotiated outside the context of a romantic relationship, and the sperm donor relied on Ms. Ferguson’s promise release him from parental responsibilities, Mr. McKiernan should be held harmless for support as Ms. Ferguson’s release was part of the bargained-for exchange between the parties. In the opinion, the Court noted that it did not take lightly the fact that the twins may suffer on account of the court’s ruling; however the Court cited the ever increasing role of reproductive technology in our modern society as necessitating a bright line for parental rights and responsibilities.
If you or someone you know is considering using assisted reproductive technology to start a family, contact our Pennsylvania Surrogacy Law Firm today to speak with one of our assisted reproductive technology lawyers. The decision to donate sperm is a decision with potentially serious legal ramifications. Contact a PA sperm donation lawyer today to learn your rights and responsibilities.