Sperm donor child support case under review

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple and was subsequently made to pay child support has revealed that his case is being reviewed by the Child Support Agency.

Andy Bathie, a 37-year-old fireman from London, provided sperm to civil partners Sharon and Terri Arnold.

As this was a private arrangement not organised through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), he is legally the father.

The couple split up and Mr Bathie was 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.

Since last year he has had £420 a month docked from his wages in child support.

Mr Bathie told the Haringey Independent he was contacted by the CSA two weeks ago.

“The CSA said what can we do for you?'” he said.

“I’m not going to hold my breath. But they said they were going to look into it.”

Mr Bathie, from Enfield, has launched a legal challenge, thought to be the first of its kind, seeking to overturn his status as a legal parent to the children.

He said: “These women wanted to be parents and take on all the responsibilities that brings. I would never have agreed to this unless they had been living as a committed family.”

Mr Bathie has said he cannot afford to have a family with his wife because of support payments he now has to pay.

“DIY” donors 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.

In November the House of Lords debated the second reading of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which will allow recognition of same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

Health minister Lord Darzi of Denham said:

“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.”