Thursday, May 19, 2005

What kind of crack-pot state am I from?

Dauphin County and PA Superior Courts have both ruled that Joel L. McKiernan must pay child support of $1520/month for twins he fathered for Ivonne V. Ferguson over 10 years ago. Ferguson, who was married to another man when the twins were conceived, asked her ex-boyfriend McKiernan to donate sperm so she could conceive by IVF and the couple had a verbal agreement [the verbal agreement has not been contested by the mother] similar to those used by sperm banks that stipulated the donor would have no legal, financial or moral obligations to any resultant child(ren). Ferguson's now ex-husband was listed a the father on the birth certificates for the twins.
Five years after the twins were born (and 3 years after Ferguson's last contact with McKiernan), Ferguson filed a suit for child support against McKiernan who had moved to the Pittsburgh area, married and fathered two children with his wife. Pennsylvania is among the states that have not adopted a version of the Uniform Parentage Act, which ensures donors cannot be forced to take on the responsibilities of active fatherhood.
The implications aren't limited to just sperm donors, but could also affect ova donation as well as donor embryos. Standard agreements for embryo donation usually contain the following statement or a similar one:
In the event that one or more Resulting Children are born from the Embryos donated, the Parties agree that the Recipients shall assume and shall be entitled to all rights and responsibilities described above. The parties further understand and agree that should further legal action on the part of any Party be necessary or advisable to facilitate the establishment of the Recipient’s parental rights, and/or the termination of the Donor’s parental rights (to the extent any are recognized), each of the Parties agree to take such action.
If the PA Supreme court rules that agreements not to hold a donor financially, legally or morally responsible for any resultant child(ren) are essentially invalid:
State appeals courts have previously said parents may not bargain away their child's right to support, and even private agreements between parents can be invalidated if they harm the child's welfare.
There's no word on what, if any, personal or financial relationship Ferguson's ex-husband has with the children (or if he was aware of her arrangement with McKiernan prior to the couple's divorce). Ferguson is yet another in a list of selfish women making life more difficult for not only their sperm donors but for good women who bust their asses raising their children without the support of the kids dead-beat dads; while the states seem to just be looking to make sure someone (usually the alleged father) will be held financially responsible regardless of the circumstances.


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