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Casual Sperm Donors at Risk of Child Support Obligations

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A recent media story has highlighted the dangers for sperm donors who enter into casual arrangements with recipients. The law is clear for anyone wishing to donate sperm; only anonymous donors at licensed clinics are treated as exempt from being viewed as the legal father of children born from their sperm donation. Unless a child is legally adopted or the consenting couple are in a civil partnership, both biological parents remain financially responsible for that child.

It is believed that there are a number of cases where men who have donated sperm on a casual basis to friends or acquaintances are now being asked for payments from the Child Support Agency. 

A Warning Story
Mark Langridge, a gay man from Essex, has gone public with his plight after he started receiving bills for £26 per week from the Child Support Agency. Mr Langridge donated sperm to Mandy Baker, a lesbian, twice in the 1990’s after they met in an Essex nightclub. At that time Mr Langridge had a partner Shaun Keeble who he remains in a relationship with. Mr Langridge claims that he never intended to be a father and that the donation was made purely as an altruistic gesture to Ms Baker.

Mr Langridge has claimed that the arrangement with Ms Baker came about after her and her partner decided that they would like to have a child. He says, after repeated assurances that the women were financially secure and would not need any financial assistance, he agreed to donate the sperm. He claims that they confirmed he would not be named on the birth certificate as the father and that Ms Baker would state that she had had a fling with the father who had left and gone back to the US.

After one child had been born, Ms Baker decided that she would like another child and Mr Langridge agreed to donate a second time. The two children are both now in their teens.

Although since 2004 Mr Langridge claims to have had little contact with the family, in June he started receiving bills from the CSA. At some point Ms Baker had sought financial assistance from the state and officials became aware that Mr Langridge was the biological father of the two girls.

The introduction of civil partnerships has reduced the risk of similar cases arising where the consenting couple are in fact in a civil partnership. However, anyone considering entering into a casual sperm donor agreement should seek legal advice first to ensure they understand their obligations.

If you would like to know more about the implications of this case or other family law issues please contact the Family Law Department by telephone on 0207 611 4848.