Should a sperm donor be classified as a “deadbeat Dad” and have to pay nearly $14,000 in child support to the child’s legal parents?
In a bizarre case working its way through the North Carolina court system, a judge will be deciding whether a sperm donor owes $13,643 in overdue child support for a child conceived after he donated sperm to a friend and her partner in 2010. The North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) claims Anthony Garrelts owes that amount of back child support to his friend Ericka Glenn and her partner, even though he joined them in a Virginia court room in 2012 to voluntarily sign away his parental rights, paving the way for Glenn and her partner to adopt the child who was born in Virginia in December 2011. In fact, the DSS also claims Garrelts has an ongoing child support obligation.
The case was originally decided under North Carolina law, where Garrelts lives. While the judge was reportedly sympathetic to Garrelts’ situation, he ruled that the sperm donor had to pay the overdue support obligation. That’s because North Carolina’s laws do not say anything about sperm donors, drawing no distinctions between biological fathers and actual fathers.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals disagreed with the application of North Carolina laws, reasoning that the lower court’s judge should have applied Virginia law instead, as the child’s mother lived in Virginia when she and Garrelts made their agreement, and that’s where both conception using the donated sperm and the child’s birth occurred.
Although the final outcome in this matter is still up in the air until the lower court decides it based on Virginia law, there is reason to believe the verdict will be one Garrelts will be happier with. That’s because Virginia laws do treat sperm donors differently than legal fathers.
At The Surrogacy Law Center, we can help protect your legal rights and interests related to surrogacy and assisted reproduction. Contact us to learn more!