There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of having a child via sperm donation was relatively unheard of or at least not talked about. Today, as we know, sperm donation is becoming more and more common and routine, which means that we hear about it more. The discussion isn't coming just from families who have benefitted from sperm donation, but also from the donors themselves, who in some cases are seeking parental rights over the children that resulted.
There is one very high-profile case going on now that has made headlines because it involves an actor who donated sperm to an ex-girlfriend. Their dispute has take on political significance since the actor spoke in support of a state legislative effort to establish parental rights for sperm donors.
The actor and his former girlfriend went to court, where the actor was declared to be a sperm donor and not a parent, which means he has no rights to the child. He argues that he and his former girlfriend had agreed otherwise and that he intended to become a parent.
This case is one example of why it is so important to have binding, written agreements when it comes to child custody and support. When a dispute arises, the parties can look to an agreement that they made before and likely both relied on and find a solution in that agreement, rather than having to turn to the courts where the dispute will become a matter of public record. This matters most in cases where the primary parent would like to keep the matter private and discuss it with their child when the time is right rather than when someone else finds out and tells them.
Source: NBC News, "Actor Jason Patric, rights of sperm donors take center stage in California," Tracy Jarrett and Liza Torres, Aug. 13, 2013.