When two people have a child together, both parents are generally responsible for the child’s well-being. Ideally, the parents would work together and share parenting duties regarding the child. If a co-parenting arrangement is not appropriate or possible, then the parent with relatively fewer parental responsibilities or less parenting time will likely be obligated to pay child support. Modern medical technology, however, has made some parenting situations much more complicated, as an increasing number of couples and individuals are turning to assisted conception methods to grow their families. One example of such complications can be found in the case of a man who fathered triplets through assisted fertilization in Thailand and is now being ordered to pay child support for the children.
Assisted Fertilization Produces Triplets
A Cook County Court and, subsequently, the First District Appellate Court in Illinois, ruled that a decision made by a court in Thailand is applicable to a man now living in Illinois. According to court records, the man in question was working in Thailand between 2001 and 2009, when he began a relationship with a woman. He and the woman participated in a traditional Thai wedding ceremony in 2004, but never legally filed their marriage paperwork.
The couple attempted to have children, court reports indicate, but were unable to do naturally, so they agreed to an assisted contraception method using the man’s sperm. He reportedly agreed to the procedure and signed a consent form indicating that he was the woman’s husband. Subsequently, the couple welcomed triplets in 2008, but the man left the woman and children in 2009.
Thai Court Ruling and the Illinois Parentage Act
The woman petitioned for financial support through the Thai court system, and the court entered an order finding the man to be children’s legal father and obligating him to pay child support. The man appealed all the way the supreme court in Thailand, but the decision was upheld. The woman also filed a petition in Cook County—where the man lived after he left Thailand—asking the Illinois court to recognize the Thai court’s decision and to assist in enforcing the payments.
Despite the man’s claims that the Illinois Parentage Act would not have created a parent-child relationship between him and the children, both the trial court and appeals court in Illinois agreed that the Thai court’s ruling should be upheld. The trial court judge determined that the man and woman presented themselves as a married couple and that the Illinois Parentage Act does create a legal parent-child relationship between a married couple and a child born to them, even if the birth was achieved through assisted fertilization.
There are ways for a sperm donor—anonymous or not—to relinquish parental rights and obligations in such a situation, but the man in this case could hardly be considered just a donor, the court ruled. Evidence showed that the man signed a consent form as the “husband,” and that he intended for the children to exercise their U.S. citizenship rights, which they would only have if he were their legal father.
Help for Complicated Parental Situations
While last year’s overhaul of the Illinois Parentage Act clarified most of the rights and responsibilities of egg donors, sperm donors, and others involved in the assisted fertilization or surrogacy process, many cases still present unique challenges. To learn more about creating surrogacy contracts or relinquishing parental rights as a donor, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 and schedule your free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.