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A sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple have two children is now being forced to pay thousands of pounds for their upbringing, he said.
Andy Bathie, 37, agreed to assist Sharon and Terri Arnold – who were united in a religious blessing ceremony – after they assured him he would have no involvement in raising the boy and girl.
But after the couple split up he was tracked down by the Child Support Agency and forced to make regular maintenance payments.
Mr Bathie, a fireman from Enfield, north London, said the financial burden was preventing him from starting his own family.
“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 – it’s crippling me financially,” he said.
He is now bringing a legal challenge to remove his responsibilities as a parent to the two children in a case believed to be the first of its kind.
Mr Bathie, who pays £450 [$925] a month in maintenance, cannot afford to employ a solicitor or barrister to take up his case but will approach his local MP, Joan Ryan, in the hope she can highlight his plight in the Commons.
He is seeking a retrospective change in the law that would place paternal responsibility on Sharon Arnold, who was the non-biological mother in the lesbian relationship.
Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they had unsuccessfully asked other male friends, but no formal legal arrangement was put in place.
“When they (Terri and Sharon) first approached me 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 told a newspaper.
“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 – this is double standards and I’m having money stolen by the Government.”
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said that private sperm donors are liable financially unless they donate through a licensed clinic.
“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,” said a spokesman.
Natalie Gamble, a fertility law expert at Lester Aldridge who advised Mr Bathie recently, said the non-biological mother in the lesbian relationship currently had no legal responsibility for the children’s upbringing.
“At the moment she has no responsibility at all, which seems rather unfair. She ought to have some responsibility towards the children she has helped bring into the world,” she said.
The Government is seeking to reform the legislation to give equal parenting rights to same-sex couples who form civil partnerships.
Had it been in place when Mr Bathie donated sperm it would have meant his right as a father would have passed to the non-biological mother.
Mrs Gamble said the law was becoming obsolete as a result of changes to the family structure.
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