When it comes to sperm donors and parentage statute, the applicable New Jersey statute was actually written in gendered language. Section 9:17-44 of the Parentage Statute prevents that a husband will be the legal father of a child if, with both spouses written consent, his wife is artificially inseminated with donated semen under physician supervision.
For today’s families, however, the courts have now interpreted this section to also apply to same-sex couples. When a woman gives birth to a child in New Jersey and that woman is in a state-recognized relationship such as a marriage or a civil union or domestic partnership, her spouse or partner is presumed to be the child’s second parent and her name will be added to the child’s birth certificate.
The second parent will legally be considered a natural parent. It is important to note that this statute applies only when the insemination process is carried out under the direct supervision of a physician. The law also protects the donor from having any rights or duties stemming from the conception of the child.
In situations where partners are cohabiting without a legally formalized relationship, second-parent adoption may be advisable and required for establishing parentage.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.