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Sperm donor disputes child support payments

Date:4 DEC 2007

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has demanded child support payments from a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple to conceive two children. The couple have since split up and the biological mother, Terri Arnold, claims she is unable to work because her second child suffers from a disability that requires regular hospital visits.

Andy Bathie, 37, from North London, claims he was assured by the couple that he would have no personal or financial involvement in the children's lives. The firefighter is now having his pay docked by the CSA despite the fact that he has no legal rights over the children. Rejecting claims that Mr Bathie is being unfairly treated, Ms Arnold told GMTV on Tuesday that although the couple did initially make such an assurance, he had changed his mind and had seen her daughter one weekend every month for two years.

Mr Bathie agreed to donate his sperm to the couple as a friend rather than go through a fertility clinic after they approached him five years ago following their marriage in a civil ceremony. However, only men who donate sperm through a licensed fertility clinic are not the legal father of any child born. A spokeswoman for the CSA said: "Unless a child is legally adopted, both biological parents are financially responsible for their child - the Child Support Agency legislation is not gender or partnership based.

Only anonymous sperm donors at licensed centres are exempt from being treated as the legal father. This does not apply to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement."

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently before the House of Lords, proposes to recognise same-sex couples who marry in civil partnerships as equal parents of children conceived through sperm donation.