Can Sperm Donors be Required to Pay Child Support?

As a Baton Rouge Family Law Attorney, one topic in the area of family law I expect to heat up in the next few years is the question of whether sperm donors can be obligated to pay child support. Currently in most states, anonymous donors are not obligated to pay child support, but known donors are. This can be the case even if the donor signed an agreement with the other parent(s) declaring him not to be responsible for paying child support. Why is this?

Matters involving children are generally decided by the court based on what is "in the best interests of the child." Generally it's in the best interests of a child to receive more support, not less. This is an interest that overrides most other factors, such as whether there was an agreement between the parents. One exception is Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court felt that ordering sperm donors to pay support would have a chilling effect on sperm donation- in other words; men might be less likely to donate sperm in non-anonymous situations. This would also mean that women might have fewer options to choose a donor known to them.

The “best interests of the child” standard is an old one. It was created in a time that didn't contemplate modern technology that allows sperm donation and similar processes. Going forward, courts may continue using the best interests of the child approach; like the dissent in the Pennsylvania case, many judges believe that, "a parent cannot bargain away a child’s right to support." However, as technologies evolve, case law tends to as well. Courts may move towards an approach that doesn't financially punish sperm donors who simply want to help out friends.

Regardless, if you're considering donating sperm, you should be aware that you could be liable for child support down the road, if the other parent requests it -regardless of any agreement the two of you make. Additionally, if that parent begins receiving public assistance, she will be required to seek child support. Child support can be quite costly, especially if the court orders back child support. If you do decide to donate, make sure you understand the risks of doing so and that you are financially stable enough to pay child support if a court orders it.

Thinking about donating sperm? Contact us to discuss your legal options and potential ramifications of the decision. We'll be happy to discuss the decision with you.