A London man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is being made to pay child support, it was revealed today.
Andy Bathie, 37, a firefighter from Enfield, agreed to help Sharon and Terri Arnold after they assured him he would have no involvement in the children’s upbringing and no financial commitment.
But he is now having his pay docked to pay thousands of pounds in child maintenance even though he has no legal rights over the boy and girl the couple had.
He says the payments mean he and his wife cannot afford to have children of their own.
Mr Bathie, from Enfield, said: “These women wanted to be parents and take on all the responsibilities that brings.
I would never have agreed to this unless they had been living as a committed family. And now I can’t afford to have children with my own wife â€” it’s crippling me financially.”
He is now bringing an unprecedented legal challenge so that he is not recognised as a legal parent to the children.
Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they were “married” in a ceremony. They had unsuccessfully asked other male friends.
He said: “I did look into the legal side and understood that as a couple they would be the parents, not me. I was never Daddy.”
He was stunned when the Child Support Agency contacted him last November to demand payments because the women had split up.
Officials made him take a £400 paternity test and began docking his pay.
Mr Bathie added: “The only reason these children are here is because they wanted children as a couple which means they should take responsibility.
The CSA admit that mine is an unusual case â€” this is double standards and I’m having money stolen by the Government.”
At the time of the donation, Mr Bathie was in a relationship with a woman who had been sterilised and was not planning to have children. He has since married someone else.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is now warning “DIY” donors they are liable financially unless they donate through a licensed clinic.
The HFEA said: “We would warn men providing genetic material that the only time they are not the father is when they donate through a licensed fertility clinic. This does not apply to unlicensed websites or home insemination.”
Lawyers say an increasing number of men are seeking legal advice after being approached by lesbian couples desperate to conceive but who cannot afford clinic costs.
Ministers have drawn up fertility reforms giving equal parenting rights to same-sex couples who “marry” in a civil partnership. This means they will now be recognised as the legal parents of children they conceive through sperm donation.
This change comes too late for Mr Bathie, who has only met the children, now aged two and four, a couple of times.
He is now pushing for an amendment to make the laws retrospective. Sharon and Terri Arnold were not available for comment.
The legal pitfall for donors
Andy Bathie has fallen victim to the legal pitfalls of being a DIY sperm donor.
Had he and the lesbian couple involved gone through the proper authorities then, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, he would have been accorded the full protection of current fertility laws.
Men who give sperm through HFEA-licensed clinics have no legal obligation to a child created through the donation process.
They do not have the right to determine how the child is brought up nor the right to be named on the birth certificate.
They also have no financial obligation to pay child support.
Donors were guaranteed the right to remain anonymous throughout the child’s lifetime but in 2005 the law changed, allowing children once they turned 18 to write to the HFEA and be told the identity of their real father.
The donor still has no legal financial obligation even after his identity becomes known. Ministers are now drawing up reforms to the law which will give both women in a lesbian relationship parental rights â€” not just the mother â€” should they marry in a civil partnership.