Film, television and stage actor (and ex-boyfriend of Julia Roberts) Jason Patric is finding himself in a bind where his custody rights are concerned regarding his biological son, Gus. The bouncing baby boy, was conceived by artificial insemination and born in 2009, following the split of his parents during the same year.
According to TMZ, baby Gus was born following an agreement between his parents where Patric, would donate his sperm to Danielle Schreiber, on the condition that she kept the agreement quiet and did not pursue him for child support.
The twist occurred however, following a brief reconciliation of Patric and Schreiber between 2011 and 2012. After this time with baby Gus, it is alleged that Patric suddenly felt a love and affection whereby he felt compelled to seek shared custody of his child.
The central question is: what rights does a father have, who donated sperm under the condition that he would not be in the child's life, and in return, would not be pursued for child support?
Pursuant to Section 21(1) of the Child Law Reform Act, a parent of a child or any other person may apply to a court for an order respecting custody. Furthermore, the CLRA establishes under section 8(4) there is a presumption that an individual is the father of a child where the child is born within 300 days after the parties ceased to cohabitate. Therefore it is clear that in Canada, Patric could in fact bring an Application before the courts for shared custody of Gus.
The issue then becomes what factors the courts will look at when determining whether to grant custody to an Applicant. After all, there is no doubt that Schreiber will attempt to rely on the parties' initial agreement.
Unfortunately for Schreiber, however, as shown in the matter of Wiedrick v. LeMesurier, 2006 CANLII 919 (ON SC), the court will determine custody and access pursuant to Section 24(2) of the CLRA¸ which sets out the multi-factored test 'the best interest of the child'. Luckily for Patric, the biological relationship between the individual seeking custody and the child, is one factor to be considered under this test.
Based on current Canadian case law, Patric could presumably be awarded shared custody of little Gus, notwithstanding the parties initial agreement. The scope of the court's analysis is limited to what is best for the child.
As fate would have it, Patric's generous gesture of sharing may very well return to benefit him. After all, they do say what goes around comes around.