Sperm donor forced to pay child maintenance

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A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is being made to pay child support.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is warning “DIY” donors that they risk financial responsibility unless they go through a licensed clinic.

Men who donate through a clinic have no legal or financial obligation to the child that is conceived and do not have a right to be named on the birth certificate.

Changes in the law in 2005, however, mean that when children turn 18 they can contact the HFEA and ask for the identity of their father.

Andy Bathie, a fireman from London, provided sperm after to civil partners Sharon and Terri Arnold. As this was a private arrangement not organised through the HFEA, he is legally the father.

The couple split up and now Mr Bathie has been told by the Child Support Agency to pay thousands of pounds in child maintenance as the biological father of the children, aged four and two.

A spokeswoman for CSA told The Sun: “Unless the child is legally adopted, both biological parents are financially responsible for their children.”

Last month, the House of Lords debated the second reading of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

“The Bill includes clear recognition of same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos,” said Lord Darzi of Denham.

“This will mean, for example, that the woman who gives birth and her civil partner will both be recognised as the parents of a child conceived via assisted reproduction. At present, the partner would have to apply to adopt the child.

“Similarly, two men will be able to apply for a parental order to become parents of a child conceived through a surrogacy arrangement. At present, parental orders are open only to married couples.”

But several of those present at the debate expressed opposition over the bill which removes a clause referencing a child’s need for a father.

Baroness Deech, a former chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, acknowledged that “single women and gay couples receive IVF treatment at clinics and have children,” but argued that a child needs a father.

“The argument for removing it is that it is now public policy to treat all families equally and to avoid any discrimination between persons on grounds of gender and sexual orientation and because there are inconsistencies and unknowns in the way that the provision is applied.

“There is no need for a father, it is said, especially given that there is provision in the current Bill for two women to be the legal parents of a child.

“Does a child really not need a father? Clearly, the need for a mother remains unchallenged. It is implicit in the way that the law works. I think that a child needs a father.

“I would argue that the present law is not discriminatory. It applies to men and women: heterosexual couples, homosexual couples, married, cohabiting and others.

“Even if it were discriminatory, it is justified on the ground that the welfare of the child is paramount.”