ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paternity Contract Invalid on Policy Grounds

New_york_flag_12 A man whose wife has, with his consent, been artificially inseminated with an anonymous donor's sperm cannot escape parental liability by contract, according to a new ruling from a New York state trial court.

In the case, the husband -- who had previously undergone a vasectomy -- reluctantly agreed to his wife's desire to have another child by artificial insemination.  Later, when the couple split before the child was born, they agreed that the husband would not be considered the father of the child.  After the child was born, they again signed an agreement stating that the husband would not be liable.

But that agreement violates public policy, said Justice Eugene Peckham.  New York law provides that the husband of a woman who conceives by artificial insemination with his consent "shall be deemed the legitimate, natural child of the husband."  The parties apparently cannot get around that obligation by contract.  Justice Peckham also apparently ruled that the husband would be estopped from denying paternity in any case, since the child had relied on his prior consent by being conceived and born.

[Frank Snyder]

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