What to Know About New Jersey Paternity, Child Custody and Visitation Laws When You’re Considering Using a Sperm Donor to Conceive Your Child


Back in August, a ruling by the highest court in Australia made international news. In the ruling, the court declared that the man whose sperm was donated to conceive a child had parental rights – including the right to block a move by the child and her mothers. While the ruling by this Australian court will have absolutely no direct effect on the law here in New Jersey, this issue of sperm donors is a very important one here in this state.

These types of issues can be incredibly important to some New Jersey families, including lesbian couples, couples where a male partner is infertile or single women who desire to have children. When your sperm donor seeks visitation or custody, it is important to know exactly how to handle this kind of case. One of your first steps should be to retain the services of an experienced New Jersey family law attorney.

In the Australian case, the biological mother was a woman who sought to start a family with her new partner, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company report. A male friend of the woman agreed to be the sperm donor. Initially, the women raised the child and the biological father visited periodically. However, after the mother’s wife developed cancer and the family decided to move to New Zealand, the biological father sued to block the move. The court system ultimately ruled for the biological father, concluding the man was legally a parent to the child.

A case from a few years ago offers some important information for New Jersey families who desire to use a sperm donor. In that case, which was covered by nj.com, a lesbian couple from Pennsville, S.Y. and T.Y., decided to start a family. They privately secured sperm from a donor and had their first child. Although the biological father stated he did not desire to have a relationship with the child, he changed his mind after the child’s birth and filed legal action establish visitation.

The women used a different private sperm donor for the conception of their second child. Just as they had with their first pregnancy, the couple had the sperm donor sign a contract that stated that the man would have no relationship with any child conceived with the sperm he donated. The couple welcomed a second child to their family and, as with the first sperm donor, the second biological father changed his mind and sought to have visitation with the child.

Conceiving under the ‘direct supervision of a physician’ makes a difference

Even though written contracts existed, the biological fathers both won. The termination of a parent’s legal rights to a child is taken very seriously by the law and, sometimes, even a written document isn’t enough to end a biological parent’s claim to a child. This was one of those situations.


When you make the momentous decision to grow your family through assisted reproduction, whether you’re a single woman, a lesbian couple or a heterosexual couple with medical issues, you may not want your sperm donor to have child custody & visitation rights. Whatever your objective, you need to know the correct way to accomplish that goal under New Jersey law. Your family is your most precious thing; don’t leave anything up to chance. Contact experienced New Jersey family law attorney Frank Marciano for the reliable advice you need for your situation. Attorney Marciano and his team are ready to get to work to provide you with thoughtful and effective solutions to your issues. To set up a consultation, contact the office online or call 201.656.1000.

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