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April 8, 2011

Akron sperm donor must pay child support

Court ruling is based on paternity declaration he had sought earlier

Akron--The Ninth Ohio District Court of Appeals has ruled that a gay man who donated sperm for one of his lesbian friends must pay child support after he filed an action to have himself declared the child’s father.

The December ruling arose from a case in which the district court overruled the Summit County Child Support Enforcement Agency, asserting that Robert Curtis did not have to pay child support for the child conceived using his sperm by Laura Prince.

Prince, her partner Vicki Griffin and Curtis signed paperwork asserting that Curtis would not be designated the father of the child, who was born in 2002, and that he would not appear on the birth certificate. However, he would be allowed to babysit.

Curtis, however, started proceedings to, according to the ruling, “establish that he was M.P.’s biological father.”

The agency affirmed on November 27, 2002 that he was, and 3˝ months later ordered him to provide child support. Curtis appealed the child support order, but not the paternity.

Prince waived child support, and the court noted at the time that Curtis “sought an order for parenting time.” The court instructed him to file a motion for that, but he did not.

Curtis moved to Florida. Then, in 2008, the Child Support Enforcement Agency filed again for an order of child support. A magistrate ruled that Prince was entitled to child support, and Curtis filed an objection. His attorney noted that, as a donor for artificial insemination, Curtis “could ‘not be treated in law or regarded as the natural father of [the] child.’ ”

The agency pointed to the determination of paternity that Curtis had requested, which found him to be the father.

The trial court ruled in favor of Curtis, finding him a sperm donor. The appellate court, however, said that the trial court overstepped its bounds, and that the time to have appealed the determination that Curtis was the child’s father was shortly after it was made, at his request, not years later.

“Curtis’ failure the challenge the paternity determination at the appropriate time precludes him from doing so at this time,” the court wrote. “We have previously held that administrative determinations when not timely appealed constitute final judgments on the merits.”

In essence, the ruling states that by establishing himself as the child’s father through petitioning a government agency, he also established himself as having to pay child support. Had he not filed the paternity question, the original agreement between Curtis, Prince and Griffin would stand, absolving him of responsibility for the child.

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