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Actor Jason Patric fights for paternal rights

Families come in many forms, and children today have various parenting arrangements. In many families, the parents also sometimes require the help of a sperm donor. Actor Jason Patric, a star of films including "Sleepers" and "The Lost Boys," donated sperm in 2009 as part of a fertility treatment that resulted in pregnancy for a former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber.

Patric then decided he wanted to help raise the child, who is now three, but has been blocked in his attempts to gain partial child custody in court. A bill unanimously passed by the state Senate, now pending in the Assembly, would change the law to make such struggles easier. The California state bill would give sperm donors the ability to sue for parentage rights.

In response to Patric's efforts, his former girlfriend is fighting the bill, declaring that the current law protects her as the child's only legal parent since she never married Patric and used a medical procedure to conceive her child.

A judge ruled Patric was merely a donor and, because the couple are not together, he could not sue her in court for custody. Under the present law, a sperm donor is not considered the "natural father" of their children unless they sign a document beforehand.

In August, the California state assembly is planning to vote on the bill -- which would allow courts to award parental rights to sperm donors under wide-ranging conditions, such as if a donor showed that he openly recognized the child as his own and opened his home to the child. Even if the law is passed in California, sperm donors would not automatically have parental rights. They would simply have the opportunity to seek shared child custody and visitation.

The paramount consideration in any child custody case is the best interest of the child. Of the many issues in family law, child custody is perhaps the most emotionally charged. When you are not with your partner anymore, it is important to remember that children may be served best by more than one parent. Typically the best interests of the child require the participation and cooperation of both parents. Parents who are dealing with child custody matters may want to work with an experienced attorney.

Source:  people.com, "Jason Patric Inspires Controversial Sperm-Donor Rights Legislation in California" Wade Rouse, Jul. 15, 2013

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