Known Sperm Donor Agreements

In today’s day and age, many individuals choose to use sperm donation in order to conceive. Often, a woman may choose to use a known sperm donation rather than an anonymous donor from a sperm bank. There are many benefits from using a known sperm donor, but it also opens the door to many potential pitfalls. A multitude of protections are provided when using a sperm bank, including, but not limited to anonymity of the donor, genetic screening and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. These protections are not necessarily present when using a known sperm donor; however, that does not mitigate the necessity of these protections. In these situations, it is essential to enter into a sperm donor agreement.

A Known Sperm Donor Agreement will contain the terms of the arrangement and should outline, at a minimum, the following:

  • Whether the donor will  sever all legal rights to the child and the responsibilities associated therewith, including: visitation, decision-making regarding the child’s health, religion, schooling, or anything else, and child support;
  • What medical and genetic information the donor will provide;
  • whether the donor will undergo any pre-donation testing (medical, genetic, STD) and who will pay for the testing;
  • Whether the donor’s identity will be shared with the child, and at what point this information will be shared.

The use of a Known Sperm Donor Agreement will assist in preempting any future disagreements between the donor and the Mother. It is important that there be a mutual feeling of trust between the Mother and the donor. Thorough discussions are imperative, and it is highly recommended that both sides engage private counsel to assist with all negotiations.

This post was written by Attorney Catherine Taylor and is for informational purposes only. Nothing contained within this post should be construed as legal advice.

 

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An Act Relative to Domestic Violence

The House is expected to be debating a new domestic violence bill next week.  The proposed bill includes substantive changes to how domestic violence is handled in the legal system.  Below are some of the highlights of the bill:

 

1.  Municipal police training will be amended to include specific training on lethality factors and information sharing.

 

2.  Required domestic violence training as part of in-service training (previously optional).

 

3.  Increased confidentiality protections for domestic violence victims by prohibiting information regarding domestic violence complaints and arrests from being included in the daily police logs, which are public record.  All complaints and arrests for domestic violence will be kept in a separate log.

 

4.  Directs a number of health care boards of registration – medicine, nursing, and social work – to create standards for licensure that require training and education on domestic violence.

 

5.  Allows District and Municipal courts to modify existing support and custody orders from the Probate & Family Court, for up to 45 days.

 

6.  Prohibits courts from granting visitation rights to a parent convicted of rape, unless the child is old enough to consent and it is in the best interests of the child.

 

7.  Required bi-annual domestic violence training to trial court personnel.

 

8.  Establishes the Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Fund which will fund a 3 year pilot program for innovative practices to prevent domestic violence and provide assistance to victims of domestic violence.

 

Please talk to your local representative about supporting this bill!

Modification of Existing Child Support Orders

One of the most common questions I am asked by clients is: when will the judge grant a Complaint for Modification regarding child support?  There are several situations in which a modification is appropriate.  According to the 2009 Child Support Guidelines, an existing order for child support may be modified in any of the following situations:

1.  the existing order is at least 3 years old; or

2.  health insurance previously available at a reasonable cost is no longer available; or

3.  health insurance not previously available to a party at a reasonable cost has become available; or

4. any other material change in circumstances has occurred.

HOWEVER, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 208, s. 28 provides that “orders of maintenance and for support of minor children shall be modified if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from the application of the child support guidelines…”

In deciding cases for modification of existing child support orders, judges have adhered to the language of the Guidelines rather than the statute, and granted modifications (not falling into the first 3 categories) only when there had been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the order was entered.  This all changed on March 12 when the Supreme Judicial Court issued its decision in Morales v. Morales (SJC 11104). Writing for the court, Justice Botsford, held that the 2009 Guidelines are not consistent with the standard set out in Section 28, thus eliminating the need for a “material and substantial change in circumstances.”

So what exactly does this mean?  This does not mean that a complaint for modification may be used as a substitute or alternative to the normal appellate process.  Appeal is still the appropriate avenue to challenge the validity of a child support order.  Nor does it mean that a complaint for modification is appropriate when nothing has changed other than the payor’s desire to reduce their support obligation.  The ruling in Morales v. Morales simply enforces that the statutory language in Section 28 – commonly referred to as the inconsistency standard – is what courts need to be applying when deciding modification cases.  Some change in circumstances must occur in order for a modification request to be properly made, otherwise, there would be no inconsistency with the Guidelines.  If either party’s salary has changed, or there has been a change in health/dental insurance, child care costs, or other support obligations, a modification will be appropriate.

If you think you are eligible for a modification of your existing child support order, please contact our office today for a free consultation.

The attorneys at Broadbent & Taylor are certified to represent Family Law clients on a limited representation basis.

Limited representation means that a client may be represented for a portion of the case, or for a specific hearing. For example, if a client needs help drafting the complaint, the client may hire the attorney to do that specific task. Also, if the client is looking for representation at just the pretrial hearing, or motion hearing, they may hire the attorney for that limited purpose. A client involved in a complicated divorce may hire the attorney to represent them on only the financial portion of the case, or only to deal with child custudy matters.

If you are looking to hire an attorney on a limited basis for a Family Law Matter, contact Broadbent & Taylor today for a consultation.

Family Law limited representation