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Texas child custody dispute over alleged non-consensual IVF

Monday, May 21, 2018

Few child custody cases are straightforward, but some are filled with a number of twists and turns. Take the example of one couple. The man used to live with his girlfriend in Texas. He now contends that she stole his sperm and impregnated herself at a fertility clinic, all without his knowledge or consent. He is suing for full child custody of their twin 4-year-old sons.

The 36-year-old father says that three months after he broke up with his ex-girlfriend, in 2007, she told him she was pregnant. The man began paying $800 a month in child support after a DNA test proved the paternity of the child. In February 2011, the man apparently found a receipt in his mailbox for sperm cryopreservation. He called Omni-Med Laboratory, the company that had sent him the paperwork. The company referred him to the Advanced Fertility Center of Texas, where he was asked to sign a medical release form.

After he didn't hear anything back, he decided to visit in person. The manager said the clinic assumed that he and his ex-girlfriend were married, and based on that assumption, the clinic performed the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure that resulted in the twins' birth. The man said he never discussed IVF with his ex-girlfriend, and they never intended to have children. He also alleges that his ex-girlfriend took his sperm from the condoms they used during sex.

According to Texas' Uniform Parentage Act, an unmarried man must consent to having his sperm used for assisted reproduction. The Act also states that consent "must be in record signed by the man and the unmarried woman and kept by a licensed physician." The clinic claims to have the signed document, but the man contends his signature was forged. The lawyer for the mother claims the plaintiff simply seeks to avoid paying child support. The lawyer also maintains that his client denied taking semen from a used condom.

The father currently has joint custody of the children, and is seeking full child custody. A complicated case, it will probably take some time to untangle the charges and counter-charges. As the case advances, it will be important that both mother and father protect their parental rights and ensure the safety and security of their children in what is shaping up to be a vigorous litigation.

Source: ABC News, "Surprise Twins: Man Sues Fertility Clinic," Christina Caron, Nov. 24, 2011

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