Q What is the Jason Patric Law and how did it come to pass?
A A bill being considered in the California House (HB 115) would allow courts to consider the option of legal parenthood for sperm donors under a greater number of conditions than is currently available. This would create a host of additional issues to consider when choosing to donate, but also creates further options that can be used to the benefit of the child in these cases.
The law is being called the Jason Patric law, as it was inspired by the actor’s legal dispute with Danielle Schreiber.
Currently, anonymous donor fathers are not conferred natural parenthood when they donate and the mother conceives. This is to protect the rights of both the donor and the recipients; the presumptive parents do not have to worry about a challenge to their parenthood of the child, whilst the donor father is not discouraged from donating out of fear that the recipients will sue for child support.
The law comes up to a gray area in cases like Jason Patric’s. Patric donated to Schreiber so that she could conceive a child, but did not do so anonymously. Further, Patric claims he and Schreiber were in a relationship at the time of the donation, and that the child was raised jointly between him and Schreiber.
The vagueness of the current law when discussing non-anonymous donors leads Schreiber to contend that under the current interpretation, the donor father has no right to parenthood. She also disputes the nature of the relationship she had with Patric at the time in question, further complicating the issue.
The new bill will not confer parenthood on the donor father in anonymous donation cases. Further, even in cases where it is known who the father is, natural parenthood will still not be automatic.
The bill provides guidelines in granting parenthood status for donors. In particular, the bill states that when a donor takes a child into their home and acts in the parental role, only then will it be presumed that this person is the natural parent of the child.
Patric lost his suit for custody rights after he and Schreiber separated.
“I cared for him, I supported him, I raised him along with his mother. No child should have to endure a painful separation from a parent who loves that child because the other parent is no longer willing to share the child and asserts a legal technicality,” Patric said in an interview.
In August the California State Assembly is expected to vote on the bill which would allow parental rights conferred on sperm donors under broader conditions.
Madan Ahluwalia is a California attorney who practices law in Santa Clara, CA. His website is www.attorneyonradio.com. He can be reached at (408) 416-3149