In a bizarre dispute worthy of a soap opera, a Canadian doctor is suing the biological father of her teenager children for child support sixteen years after asking him for his sperm, and fourteen years after signing an agreement that she would not seek financial assistance from him.
However, despite that agreement, a loophole in Ontario law means that biological parents who don't protect their anonymity can be held liable for child support—which means that a couple thimblefuls of sperm from decades ago may end up costing this guy big time.
According to the National Post, Dr. Amie Cullimore and Michael Ranson first met as medical students in 1991 and became fast friends, staying in touch when Ranson moved to America, and later Europe, after graduating. In 2000 Cullimore asked Ranson, who is gay and never planned on having children, to provide her with sperm so she could undergo IVF.
She would up conceiving two children, now teenagers, using those embryos. In 2002, both parents signed an agreement giving her full custody and absolving him of any financial responsibility. But as her lawyer argues, that deal was undermined by his continued presence in the kids' lives.
Ranson became a devoted "spuncle," a weirdly cutesy term for sperm donors who choose to stay in the picture instead of ghosting immediately. According to Cullimore's child support application, he acted as their father, paying for their vacations to visit him, introducing them to his family, and signing his emails "dad." Gradually, she became upset that he was enjoying all this family bonding while she footed the bill (even though he gave her $22,000 in 2011 to help). And according to her lawsuit, she's no longer able to support the kids on her own.
For the record, neither of these people are sweating it. Cullimore makes just under $250,000 a year as a gynecologist/professor, while Ranson has been working for the World Bank in Europe, making almost $280,000. So no matter how this case turns out, they'll both be fine. Their friendship, however, will probably not recover.
And what of the kids? How will they get out of this without a tarnished relationship with at least one of their (biological) parents? It just proves that no child is safe from being caught in the middle of a bitter breakup, even if one of their parents is a sperm donor who lives on another continent.