Virginia Sperm Donor Ruled to Have Parental Rights

Posted on Feb 17, 2013

A Virginia Beach attorney has been granted parental rights following a tough legal battle.

William Breit and Beverly Mason conceived a daughter through in-vitro fertilization back when they were dating. The couple split up four months after the child was born, but they signed a custody and visitation agreement, as well as an affidavit establishing Breit as the biological father.

However, nine months later, Mason tried to invoke the Virginia law that says unmarried sperm donors have no parental rights and she cut off Breit's contact with his child. The law she cited says a "donor is not the parent of a child conceived through assisted conception, unless the donor is the husband of the gestational mother."

The matter made its way all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, which recently ruled that the law Mason cited was originally intended to ensure married couples could seek a sperm donor without fearing the donor would claim parental rights. The justices called attention to another statute, which says a parent-child relationship can be established by "a voluntarily written statement of the father and mother made under oath acknowledging paternity." They also said Breit has a fundamental constitutional right to be involved in his child's upbringing.

The case will go back to the lower court for proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion. As of now, Breit's daughter is three years old, and he says he has not seen her since she was 13 months old. Breit's attorney says, "The time has clearly come for everyone to get past the legal fighting and move forward in a positive direction for the benefit of the little girl."

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