Attorney Michele Jackson, who specializes her legal practice in Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Law weighs in on the legal pitfalls in assisted reproduction in Indiana.
In a recent Indiana Court of Appeals case (Engelking v. Engelking) the court was charged with determining if father should pay child support as the parent of two children conceived through artificial insemination during his marriage to Mother. In this case, the father claimed that his six and nine year old children, born while he was married to their mother, were not children of the marriage because they were born via artificial insemination without his knowledge. The mother claims that father did have knowledge of the artificial insemination and father supported both children and treated them as if they were his biological children. The trial court and Court of Appeal both provided findings that supported Mother’s claim. Father was ordered to pay child support.
Assisted reproduction used during a marriage to two intending parents should result in parents that have parent rights and obligations. What if the one of the parents does not consent to the assisted reproduction? In most circumstances of the parties being married, both parents would still gain parental rights and obligations. However, in assisted reproduction using the sperm of a donor or the egg of a donor, the donor is often not a legal parent and has not parental rights or obligations and that was the intent of all parties. Be careful though! It is important that all known donors have contracts that specifically indicate intent of the parties. In addition, anonymous donors may also want contracts as well. There are many reasons for the contracts beyond parental rights. There are issues of liabilities and finances that may need to be addressed between the two parties (the donor and the intended parent(s)).