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New bill to address child custody may affect Jason Patric

Modern science has brought about opportunities for families to have children in unconventional ways. Heterosexual and same-sex couples are able to use the sperm and eggs from people of their choice, have them combined in a laboratory and then use the resulting embryos whenever they want. However, laws to govern this modern way of building families have not kept up, and many child custody and parental rights claims have not been properly dealt with. California has acknowledged the problem, and the State Senate has recently passed a bill to address parental rights.

The bill endeavors to reduce the parental rights lawsuits and only awaits the signature of the Governor. Currently, no law exists to protect the rights of the sperm donor or surrogate mother. The donor of the sperm has no paternal rights, even if he and the mother are in a relationship. Currently, such a father has to fight for paternal rights, and if the birth mother is in a marriage with another man, he is automatically regarded as the legal father.

On the other hand, anonymous sperm donors cannot be held responsible for child support and are currently protected against such claims by law. The new bill would require both sperm and egg donors, along with every other person who has an interest in the embryo, to complete documentation to stipulate the responsibilities and rights -- or lack thereof -- of every party with an interest in the child. This procedure would be required in all cases of in vitro and surrogacy procedures, thereby restructuring paternal rights processes across California.

The proposal of the bill was initiated after the well publicized case of actor Jason Patric, who was caught up in a paternity battle over his son. The child was the product of Patric’s donated sperm and eggs from the woman with whom he had a 10-year relationship. The couple was not married, and therefore Patric was seen as a donor with no legal rights over the child. A lower court ruled in the mother’s favor, but a California appeals court recently ruled that Patric has the right to establish paternal rights to his son. The new bill would serve to have everybody’s rights predetermined, thereby avoiding years of litigation for child custody and parental rights.

Source:, "Jason Patric's Custody Battle Ends In a Revelutionary California Bill That'd Redefine Parenting", Lauren Barbato, May 20, 2014

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