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No paternal rights for sperm donor of same-sex couple's child

Some Florida parents in same-sex relationships might be worried about their rights if a donor was involved in their child's conception. However, in a case in New York, a five-judge panel ruled that a sperm donor had waived his paternity rights to a child born to a lesbian couple.

The man had made an informal agreement with the women to donate sperm. At that time, according to the court, he explicitly waived any paternity claims or custody and visitation rights while the women waived the right to claim child support. The court also says the man was not involved in any aspect of prenatal care and did not see the child until she was several weeks old. He filed the paternity action when she was seven months old. A lower court ordered a paternity test so that his rights could be determined, but this overturns that decision.

The decision was released on Jan. 25 and stated that the child's life would be needlessly disrupted by the request. It also stated that the parental rights of same-sex couples were the same as those of traditional couples. The court stood by this decision despite reports that the child was in foster care because of neglect. Since the ruling was unanimous, an automatic review of the case by a higher court will not occur.

Same-sex partners who have children or who are considering starting a family might want to talk to an attorney about their rights. Whether they are planning to use a donor or a surrogate or are interested in adoption, an attorney might be able to advise regarding any potential legal pitfalls. In a couple in which one person already has a child and the other partner wishes to be legally recognized as the child's other parent, an attorney might also be helpful.

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