New Jersey sperm donors may not be allowed to assert paternity rights based on the decision in a case that occurred in New York. In this case, a lesbian couple who married in 2014 made an informal agreement with a man to donate sperm so that they could have a child.
At the time, according to the court, the man waived paternity, custody and visitation rights while the couple waived any rights to ask for support. The court says the man was not involved in any prenatal care or in the birth of the child. The suit was filed when the baby was 7 months old.
The court, which released its decision on Jan. 25, found that based on the informal agreement, the man had waived his rights. The decision was unanimous. The court agreed that traditional and same-sex couples have the same rights as parents and that granting parental rights to the donor would disrupt the child’s stability needlessly. The Appellate Division also found that although the child had been put into foster care and neglect was alleged, the donor still did not have a legitimate paternity claim. Furthermore, the unanimous decision means that the Court of Appeals will not automatically review the case. It would require permission from the court to appeal, which is rarely granted.
Same-sex couples who are getting a divorce and who have children might be concerned about whether they will both be legally considered the parents of the child. For example, only one might be the child’s biological parent. Individuals in this situation may want to talk to an attorney. If both parents are considered to have equal rights, they will still need to go through the same process as traditional couples in negotiating an arrangement for child custodyor have a judge do so.