Chances are you already heard the news in the media, or you have been following this hotly contested parentage case. This case has struck at the heart strings of parents all across the country and asks the question of who is a father? The case, of course, is the parentage dispute between my client, Jason Patric and his former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber – a matter which has previously been discussed on this blog.
Asserting that Jason was legally barred from obtaining a court decree that he is the father of his son because he provided his semen to a licensed physician for the purpose of inseminating Danielle, who was not his wife, Danielle moved to dismiss Jason’s claim at trial asserting that the law does not allow a man who provides his sperm to a physician for such a purpose to be the child’s legal father. This statute, first implemented in the 1970s was intended to protect a true sperm donor, and married couples who needed donor sperm to have children. It was never contemplated that at some point unmarried people would use modern technology to conceive, in fact, such technology did not then exist. While it is true that the law did traditionally bar true “sperm donors” from becoming parents, the law also provides that a man could become the legal parent of a fatherless child if he held the child out as his own and received the child into his home. In this particular case, the evidence demonstrated that the child born of this procedure knows Jason as his father and that both Jason and Danielle held Jason out as the father. At trial, Jason contended he had the right to demonstrate he was the father, but the trial judge ruled he did not despite the fact that the court had previously given Jason visitation with his son five days per week while the case proceeded to trial.
Knowing that this outcome was legally wrong, we took the matter up on appeal. In a first-of-its kind, published decision issued on May 14, the Court of Appeal upheld our position and reversed the judgment of the trial court. You can read the entire opinion by clicking on this link: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B248629.PDF
The case has significant implications for unmarried people using fertility treatments to start families. As such it garnered significant media attention. In fact, on the day the opinion was published, ABC News flew Jason and I to New York to appear on Good Morning America to discuss the case the following morning. We also appeared on CNN and Fox News. If you are interested in the videos, they are accessible from this page on the website: http://fsfamilylaw.com/articles.php.
Jason will now have the opportunity to prove in court that he is the legal father of his son. And many other parents who provided genetic material to form a family outside of wedlock will also be able to establish their rights in court.