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Court Rules Sperm-Donor Father Has Custodial Rights

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File photo of courtroom.(Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of courtroom.(Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Supreme Court says state law does not always deny parental rights to unmarried sperm donors.

The court ruled Thursday in the case of a Virginia Beach man and his girlfriend, who broke up months after the birth of a daughter who was conceived through in-vitro fertilization. Beverly Mason stopped allowing William Breit to see the child, even though they had signed papers establishing Breit as the dad.

Mason invoked laws that say unmarried sperm donors have no parental rights. A judge agreed with her, but the Virginia Court of Appeals and now the Supreme Court ruled against her. The justices said lawmakers didn’t intend to deny parental rights based solely on marital status in cases like this, where the couple lived together and signed legal agreements.

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