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Should sperm donors have visitation with any children born?

Mississippi readers may have heard about the child custody battle between actor Jason Patric and his ex-girlfriend regarding a child they share. Patric donated his sperm so that the mother of the now four-year-old boy could conceive a child, and Patric wanted to be a part of that child's life. The boy's mother has since denied him visitation, so he took her to court.

Traditionally, sperm donors have no contact with the mother or the child. However, in some cases, the donor takes part in the child's life and could even be considered a father figure. More men are donating their sperm to friends and lovers who want a child. Those personal connections could increase the number of men wanting visitation with the child after he or she is born.

In Patric's case, an appellate court has brought him one step closer to having his parental rights recognized. This brings up the question of whether women need to protect themselves from a sperm donors potentially trying to assert their parental rights. Many states have certain criteria beyond DNA to define whether a sperm donor is acting as a father to a child.

Any woman who does not want the man making the donation to be legally recognized as the father of the child may benefit from a thorough review of Mississippi law. A mother who lets the donor spend time with the child because of a personal relationship with him may find herself in court battling over visitation rights if she is not careful. The nature and composition of families is constantly changing across the nation, which will most likely result in modifications to many custody and visitation laws.

Source: ABC News, "Actor's Custody Case Ruling May Impact Other Dads", Anthony Mccartney, May 17, 2014

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