Jason P. v. Danielle S. is an unusual parentage dispute that arose between a boyfriend and girlfriend after the boyfriend donated his sperm to impregnate his on-again, off-again girlfriend.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND OF THE PARENTAGE LEGAL ACTION
The parents in this case had an erratic relationship. During the relationship the mother wanted to have a child. The father was not convinced that he wanted a child. Knowing this fact, the mother obtained sperm from an anonymous donor. The father, wanting to support the mother, provided his sperm for the in vitro fertilization. The mother conceived, and a boy was born. When the boy was around two, the father filed an action for parentage.
TRIAL COURT’S FINDING OF PARENTAGE
In this case the only way the father could be considered a presumed father under the law was if he held himself out as the natural father of the minor child. The fact that he provided sperm to the mother and was in fact the biological father was not enough for a finding of fatherhood. By law when in vitro fertilization is performed by a doctor, the father has no parentage rights. In order to qualify as a presumed father, the father had to hold the minor child as his own. The significance of this case is that the father did not hold the child out as his son right away to everyone, he did not pay for prenatal care, and he did not have significant contact with the minor child until his son was older. In addition, the mother also encouraged the relationship between the father and his son when the parties were getting along. The family court found that the father qualified as a presumed father.
APPEAL OF THE FINDING OF PARENTAGE
The appellate court agreed with the trial court. It held that it is not necessary for a person seeking presumed parent status to have entered into the familial relationship from the time of conception or birth. The critical question is whether the presumed parent is an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the child and the child’s welfare regardless of biology. The family court’s finding that the father had regularly spent time with the minor child, had a room in his apartment prepared for his son, and had his son at his home were all sufficient contacts to a finding of presumed parentage. The appellate court also found that the mother’s encouragement of the relationship between the sperm donor and her son, supported the finding of presumed parentage.
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH ISSUES RELATED TO PARENTAGE?
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Laguna Hills, California
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