Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Actor Prevails in Bid to Be Declared Child’s Father—Website
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Actor Jason Patric has prevailed in his bid to be declared the legal father of the 4-year-old son that his former girlfriend, actress Danielle Schreiber, conceived through in vitro fertilization, the celebrity website TMZ reported yesterday.
“We’ve learned the trial judge just issued a sealed, 45-page opinion, concluding Jason was the legal father,” TMZ said. The story said the parties were ordered to attempt to work out custody, visitation, and support issues before the court steps in.
Patric’s suit was originally dismissed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, but Div. Four of the Court of Appeal for this district ruled last May that a statute that denies automatic parental status to a sperm donor unless he is the mother’s spouse or has a written agreement with her is not an absolute bar to a ruling that the donor is the child’s legal father.
The trial court based its original ruling on Family Code §7613(b), which says that, when the parties are unmarried, a sperm donor “is treated in law as if he were not the natural parent of a child thereby conceived, unless otherwise agreed to in a writing signed by the donor and the woman prior to the conception of the child.”
But the Court of Appeal, in an opinion by Justice Thomas Willhite Jr., said that §7613 is not an absolute bar when the petitioner is claiming presumed father status under §7611. The latter section sets out several rebuttable presumptions under which a man may qualify for parental status, regardless of whether he is the child’s biological father.
One of the provisions permits a man to be presumed as the father of a child whom he received into his home and held out as his own.
Patric and Schreiber, who had dated off and on for about 10 years, split for good in June 2012, shortly before the actor filed his parentage action. He claims that he, Schreiber, and Gus lived as a family and that she actively encouraged his relationship with the boy.
The proper interpretation of the two statutes, Willhite said, is that a sperm donation will not establish paternity, absent marriage or a written agreement, but the donor may still establish paternity under §7611, if he can establish that the presumption applies and the mother fails to rebut it.
That interpretation, he wrote, “allow[s] both statutes to retain effectiveness and promote[s] the purpose of each.”
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