According to a recent decision issued by an Indiana appellate court, one man in the midst of a nasty divorce must pay child support for his two children even though they were conceived by artificial insemination from another man’s sperm.
The Indiana Court of Appeals flatly rejected the man’s claim that he ought to be excused from child support payments given that his children were not biologically his. The couple married back in 2001 and began looking into the possibility of artificial insemination after they learned the husband’s vasectomy would not be able to be reversed. A family friend offered his sperm and they went on to have two children. The first, a boy, was born in 2004. Two years later a girl was born with sperm from the same man.
The issue in contention was whether this insemination was done with the man’s consent. The procedure was performed without a doctor and in the privacy of their own home. The husband claims he never consented to the artificial insemination. His wife disagreed, saying the man fully understood what they were doing and was in agreement.
The appellate court pointed out that the husband spent years acting as the father to both children. Even after the two separated he continued paying for the kid’s clothes, medical expenses and daycare. Only after he filed for divorce in 2010 did he change his mind and claim that he should not have to support the children because they were not biologically his.
The case was first heard last year by a lower court which held that the kids were products of the marriage between the couple. As a result, the judge said that the man was responsible for supporting the children, despite the genetic differences. Last week, the state Court of Appeals decided it agreed.
One complication to the matter is that, Indiana lacks any substantive laws regarding parenthood and artificial insemination. A website meant to educate potential sperm donors says that 32 states have laws that state the husband, not the sperm donor, is the child’s legal father. Other states, including North Carolina, have a further stipulation that says the husband’s written consent must be obtained before artificial insemination takes place in order to hold him liable for child support. Indiana, however, has no such requirement.
The Court of Appeals found that the husband in this case gave his implied consent by not objecting within a certain period of time after the artificial insemination took place. Biology was not seen as the most important issue to the Court. Instead, the act of holding oneself out as a parent was seen as definitive.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Concord, it is best to contact experienced child support lawyers and attorneys who practice in Concord, Cabarrus County, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the sometimes-confusing process.