Legal adventures 2: gay sperm donor hit for child support 13 years later

Michael Cook
3 Nov 2012
Reproduced with Permission

A gay man in the UK has been startled to learn that he will have to pay child support for two children he fathered - 13 years after the first child was born.

The Guardian reports that Mark Langridge, a part-time gardener and bookkeeper, became friendly with a lesbian couple in 1997. He agreed to donate sperm so that one of them could bear children. There was a clear understanding that he would not be involved in raising or supporting the children. At the time, the women seemed to be financially secure and their relationship was stable.

However, the lesbian couple broke up, leaving one of them with the children. Now single and much poorer, she asked the Child Support Agency to pursue Mr Langridge. Much to his dismay, he discovered that the law is quite clear about private sperm donations before 2009. According to the CSA:

"The law covering unlicensed sperm donation has always been very clear. Only anonymous sperm donors, at licensed centres, are exempt from being treated as the legal father of a child born as a result of their donation. This has never applied to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement. Unless the child is legally adopted, both biological parents are financially responsible for their child by law, regardless of whether both their names are entered on to the birth certificate."

Mr Langridge, who cannot afford to fight the CSA, is pinning his hope on a retrospective application of the 2009 law:

"It is absurd that I'm being chased for the money while the children's other mother makes no contribution to their upkeep. How can that be right in modern Britain in which we supposedly have equality?"