A long and arduous court case over the parental rights of a gay couple and their sperm donor in Topeka, Kansas recently came to an end. The problems started after the two women separated, and the biological mother filed for Medicaid assistance for their child. Despite the fact that both the couple and the man only ever intended him to be a sperm donor, the Kansas Department of Child and Families sued, claiming that since the insemination was not performed by a licensed physician (the couple found their sperm donor through a Craigslist ad), the man should be declared as the legal father and required to pay child support

Citing many reasons, including the failure of the couple to consult appropriate legal services before using the man’s sperm to conceive their child, the district court judge ruled that the man had no legal obligation to pay child support, even though he was confirmed as the child’s biological father. The judge declared that the biological mother and her former partner (who was not listed on the birth certificate when the child was born in 2009) are both legally responsible for supporting the child.

An experienced adoption attorney can help you establish your parental rights and avoid unforeseen legal issues

This case serves as a cautionary tale for anyone considering using a sperm donor to conceive a child, as well as LGBT couples hoping to adopt, to seek qualified legal guidance before proceeding. While the judge effectively ruled in favor of the couple, who both wished to remain the child’s parents, this four-year-long legal battle could have been avoided had the couple sought legal advice to help them navigate the sperm donation process.

While it may be tempting to bypass the red tape and expense of a sperm bank or fertility clinic, DIY sperm donation—either via Craigslist, a friend or acquaintance, or other source—done without first consulting with an experienced adoption attorney leaves your family vulnerable to a host of legal issues, along with the financial and emotional damage that an unanticipated parental rights dispute could cause.

With Marriage Equality now the law across the U.S., we can only expect more cases like this to emerge, and with little legal precedent available to help define who is responsible for child support when a gay couple separates (in North Carolina, there is currently no case law on the matter), the value of working with an experienced adoption attorney cannot be understated. Doing so will not only help your family and the biological parent avoid unanticipated lawsuits, but adoption may be an essential step in securing your rights as an adoptive parent when you are not the biological parent of your child.

If you and your spouse are ready to welcome a child to your family in the Asheville area, we encourage you to contact our experienced Asheville adoption lawyers at Craig Associates. Whether you are considering adoption or conceiving a child via a sperm donor or surrogate, we can help you navigate the legal process and gain confidence and peace of mind.