Gay sperm donor told to pay for children by CSA
A gay man who twice donated sperm to help a lesbian couple have children has been ordered by the Child Support Agency (CSA) to pay maintenance.
Mark Langridge, from Essex, has been told to pay £26 per week towards the upbringing of two girls, both born more than a decade ago, even though he is not named on either birth certificate.
Mr Langridge made the first of two donation in 1998, after he and his partner Shaun became friends with a lesbian couple who wanted to have children. The second donation followed in 2000, and on both occasions the couple was promised that he would not be named on the birth certificate. He was also assured that the lesbian couple were financially secure and would require no money from him.
Mr Langridge, who has been with his partner 16 years and in a civil partnership with him for five, had some contact with the family until 2004 but then lost touch.
The lesbian couple, who never became civil partners, split up, and the biological mother left with the children later claimed benefits. Mr Langridge claims she threatened to reveal his identity to the CSA and earlier this year, he received a letter from the agency demanding money.
He told the Guardian: “I have told the CSA what happened but it has fallen on deaf ears. As far it is concerned, if I’m the biological father I have to pay – irrespective of the circumstances.”
The mother’s former partner continues to visit the children but is not regarded as having any financial responsibility by the CSA.
The law on sperm donation and paternity was changed in April 2009. Now, under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, anyone who donates to a couple in a civil partnership or via a licensed clinic is not considered the legal father. In the former case, under section 42 of the Act, the other partner in the partnership is considered the legal parent of the child provided they consent.
However, Mr Langridge’s donation was made before this law came into force and via a private arrangement.
Mr Langridge earns a low income and says he cannot afford the £26 per week ordered – and a legal challenge to the order is even further beyond his means. He has called on the government to change the law:
“The law was changed because it was unfair, but it is still considered OK for men caught in my position to be penalised. Our only crime was agreeing to do someone a good turn. 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?”
This case is an excellent illustration of the way in which the rigid application of rules can sometimes clash loudly with the peculiarities and complexities of a situation. Yes, from a legal and biological point of view, there is no doubt that Mr Langridge is the father but what about the other mother in the lesbian couple? Legalities aside, it would seem wholly fair that she bear some of the financial responsibility for two girls, who were, after all, born because of the family unit she had created with their mother.
Sometimes, it does seems as though parents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Just last week we reported on the case of a girl refused military compensation after her father was killed in action because her parents were not married. And yet, Mr Langridge, who was perhaps as far from being married to the children’s mother as it is possible to be, still has to pay up.
Photo by Steve and Sara Emry under a Creative Commons licence
Share this post
Get free family law updates
Marilyn Stowe’s new book: expert advice on all aspects of divorce, just 99p!
Divorce & Splitting Up by Marilyn Stowe is the essential how-to book for anyone who is getting divorced or splitting up from a partner. Read more >>
"A must buy that really opens your eyes to what is involved if you are considering or going through a divorce." - Amanda Brown
"This will answer your questions in a way that non-lawyers can understand." - Miss P.
"Don't get divorced without it. I read this book despite being divorced for more than 10 years. I wish I'd had this book to hand at the time. Great examples, simple to read and understand." - Jamie
"This really has helped me to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I will come out of it a stronger person." - J
Marilyn Stowe on SKY News & ITV This Morning
- Lianna on Delaying the Decree Absolute: another look at Miller Smith v Miller Smith
- JamesB on Don’t have children if you aren’t ready for marriage, judge says
- Raven on The Expat’s Tale: “I’m a stuck mum”
- Paul on Don’t have children if you aren’t ready for marriage, judge says
- Stephanie Bamberger on What family lawyers were talking about this week… by John Bolch
Subscribe & Follow
In the Media
Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
Contact Stowe Family Law
These downloads accompany Marilyn Stowe's latest book: Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice From a Top Divorce Lawyer. After opening, right click to save to your computer.
For more free downloads, visit the Downloads section.