For the first time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether a sperm donor has to pay child support payments for the children resulting from his donation. The case is Ferguson v. McKiernan, and the Court ruled that no child support is due.
Ordinarily, in Pennsylvania, parents have a duty to support their children until the children become emancipated. A parent cannot contract to give up the right to receive child support because it is not the parent’s right to give away; it is the child’s. Any contract attempted to waive the right to child support is void.
In Ferguson, the mother and the sperm donor orally agreed that the sperm donor would give up any custody rights and that he would not owe child support for any children. The mother later conceived twins through in vitro fertilization and sued the sperm donor for child support.
The Supreme Court found that the oral contract was valid and that this sperm donor did not have to pay child support for the twins. The Supreme Court found that this is different from a contract between two people who conceived the children through intercourse. The contract was also different because it was entered into before conception.
In reaching its decision, the Court recognized the growing field of reproduction assistance for mothers. Anonymous sperm donors do not pay child support. If a mother selects a donor that she knows and respects, the donor is more likely to participate if he knows that he will not be required to support any resulting children. Any other decision would subject sperm donors to liability for child support which could ultimately force all mothers to use anonymous donors.