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'Sperm donor' father wins child custody battle in Australia

22 October 2012
Appeared in BioNews 678

A man in Queensland, Australia, who acted as a known sperm donor for a woman in a private arrangement, has been awarded shared parental responsibility over a girl he fathered. The man, who maintained regular contact with the child since birth, including overnight stays, will have a say over the child's education and have residency rights during school terms.

The parties had agreed in early 2004 to conceive a child. The court heard how the man had acted as a sperm donor to other women. It was however unclear from proceedings whether the mother in this case conceived through an artificial conception procedure or otherwise.

'They were not then in a relationship and never have been. The father was (it is agreed between them) a sperm donor whose identity was to remain anonymous at least for a period of two years', the court reported. Before the birth, the father's identity was nonetheless revealed by both parents to their families. Shortly after the birth of the child, who is now seven years old, the mother and father entered into a child support agreement to last 16 years.

The legal dispute began four years ago when the mother decided to relocate with the child. At the time of her move, the mother had just had a baby with her then partner and had consented to the girl living 'primarily' with her father, as he reportedly found it difficult to make the four-hour drive to see her.

However, in 2010 the girl's mother challenged the agreement after the man told her that he had fathered a second daughter with another woman, reportedly by sperm donation, four years after the birth of their child. According to the court she was reportedly enraged by the news, calling the man a 'slimy liar'. The judgment describes the mother as having 'ongoing palpable fury' towards the father having kept secret the second child.

'She continued her denigration of the father to as wide an audience as possible', said Magistrate Norah Hartnett of the Federal Magistrate Court. But the mother also acknowledged 'all the positive elements' such as the musical and academic development the father had fostered in his daughter, the newspaper reports.

Custody win for sperm donor father
Herald Sun |  19 October 2012
Fraser & Farwell [2012] FMCAfam 1088 (12 October 2012)
Federal Magistrates Court of Australia - Family Law |  12 October 2012
Sperm donor wins custody over child in Queensland
Nine News |  19 October 2012
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