Recently, a California court ruled Jason Patric is a legal parent of Gus Schreiber, the 4-year old boy that was conceived with Patric’s sperm. Patric’s custody lawsuit has made news for the past two years via accusations and media campaigns. Most notably, it has brought one question to the forefront of paternity issues: At what point does a sperm donor become a father?
Paternity and Custody Lawsuit
Patric agreed to donate his sperm to ex-girlfiend Danielle Schreiber in 2008. The donation was under the conditions that she did would not expect to receive child support and that she would not tell anyone that Patric was the biological father. Gus was born in 2009. At that time, Patric’s conditions remained the same. But in 2011, Patric and Schreiber rekindled their relationship. During that time, Schreiber, Gus, and Patric spent time together. Schreiber even told the child to call Patric “Dada.” The two broke up in 2012. Patric decided to sue for custody. A media circus ensued. Allegations of abuse by Patric were made. Patric put together an organization called “Stand Up For Gus,” with aims to change laws around sperm donor rights in the nation.
Family Code Section 7613(b)
California’s Family Code Section 7613(b) states if a man provides semen to a physician “for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the natural father of a child thereby conceived.” This law, like others pertaining to children conceived without intercourse, was written in the 1970s as a way to protect rights of parents using sperm banks, as well as the anonymous donors to the sperm banks. But that’s not the case as much anymore as families become more and more untraditional. There are now numerous parent-donor scenarios.
New Laws, in Light of Patric’s Case
Patric’s fight for custody of Gus has generated numerous new bills, such as the Modern Family Act, which defines and protects the rights of these new parent-donor scenarios and “nontraditional” parents such as LGBTQ families. It also defines cases where a donor (sperm or egg) plays a parental role in the child’s life, regardless of the type of relationship they share with the other parent.
But the judge’s ruling does not necessarily mean Patric will get custody of Gus. In light of the highly publicized and ugly paternity battle, a judge might decide Gus is best left in his mother’s care.
Source: Refinery29, Jason Patric’s Ugly Battle Raises One Important Question, November 4, 2014
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