You're STILL the Father!

T and C met in 1991, but they did not begin a sexual relationship until 2005. Prior to 2005, C had a vasectomy.

Shortly after beginning their sexual relationship, T and C discussed having a child together. C agreed to have sperm extracted and in time, T became pregnant. She also paid for all costs for the fertilization process.

In 2008, T had a son (S) and C was present during the delivery. After leaving the hospital, C spent two to four nights a week with T and their son at T’s home. (C was a pilot, and T thought C was out of town when he wasn’t spending the night with her and S.)

C was married with two children during his entire relationship with T, and when he wasn’t with T and S, he was with his wife and other two children. T knew of his marriage, but believed that C and his wife were separated. C identified himself to T’s family and friends as S’s father and was called “Daddy” by S.

Although C never paid child support for S, he did provide T with a new car after S’s birth and groceries and provided S with gifts. He also paid T $500 per month to rent garage space for his car, according to him. He also paid portions of T’s mortgage during 2009. C kept up his duo relationships for the next two and one years, until 2010, when he cut off all contact with T and S. He had never told his friends or family of S, nor did he include S on his insurance policies or C’s estate planning.

In 2014, the County of Orange filed a complaint against C asking that he be declared S’s father, be ordered to pay child support. C denied that he was S’s biological father.

The court found C to be both S’s presumed father under Family Code Section 7611d,even if he were merely a sperm donor and not legally responsible for S under Family Code Section 7613. The court stated: “The facts in this case involving [C] and [S] are unique because it is absolutely clear that [C] wanted a child with [T]. He was not a mere bystander and donor. He underwent a medical procedure for the specific purpose of retrieving viable semen in order to impregnate [T]. This had been discussed thoroughly between the two of them…”

C appealed, and the Appellate Court agreed with the trial court.

Section 7611d states: “A person is presumed to be the natural parent of a child if … [t]he presumed parent receives the child into his or her home and openly holds out the child as his or her natural child.” The trial court found that C did hold himself out openly to be S’s father.” The Appellate Court agreed that C’s involvement with S were sufficient for presumed fatherhood.

However, C argued that under Section 7613, he could not be held responsible because he was merely a sperm donor. Both the trial court and the Appellate Court did not agree that C was merely a sperm donor, because of his desire to have a child with T and the procedures he went through to ensure success, versus the usual sperm donor who merely supplies a sperm sample.

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