Jack Malvern – Times Online December 4, 2004
A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is being made to pay child support, despite having no involvement in the children’s lives.
Andy Bathie, 37, a firefighter from Enfield, North London, provided the sperm after being assured by Sharon and Terri Arnold that he would have no personal or financial involvement with the children. But now he is being forced to pay thousands of pounds in maintenance by the Child Support Agency, although he has no legal rights over the boy and girl, aged 2 and 4, born to the couple, who have now split up.
Mr Bathie said that he could not afford to have children with his own wife because of the financial implications. He is attempting to have the law changed so that he is not recognised as a legal parent to the children. “I did look into the legal side and understood that, as a couple, they would be the parents, not me. I was never ‘daddy’,” he told the Evening Standard in London. “The CSA admit that mine is an unusual case. This is double standards and I’m having money stolen by the Government.”
Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they entered a civil partnership. At the time he was in a relationship with a woman who had been sterilised and was not planning to have children. He has since married someone else.
Unaware of the legal pitfalls, he was shocked when the Child Support Agency contacted him last November to demand payments because the women had split up. He was made to take a £400 paternity test and his pay was docked.
A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said that men who donated sperm through licensed fertility clinics were not the legal fathers of any children born as a result. “Men giving out their sperm in any other way, such as via internet arrangements, are legally the father of any children born, with all the responsibilities that carries,” he added.
The CSA said that, unless a child was legally adopted, both biological parents were financially responsible. “The Child Support Agency legislation is not gender or partnership based,” a spokesman said. “Only anonymous sperm donors at licensed centres are exempt from being treated as the legal father. This does not apply to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement.”
Ministers have drawn up fertility reforms giving equal parenting rights to same-sex couples who “marry” in a civil partnership. This means they will be recognised as the legal parents of children conceived through sperm donation. However, the change comes too late for Mr Bathie, although he is now pushing for an amendment to make the laws retrospective.
Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, is chairman of the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee, which deals with human fertilisation and research. He said: “The CSA has to look very carefully at the issue and make an assessment. I suspect Mr Bathie won’t get his money back, as there would be a flood of similar applications. Hopefully, common sense will prevail, particularly if he has evidence saying he was a donor and there was an agreement he’d have no further relationship.”
Last updated 06/12/2007