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Paternity issues take center stage in actor's custody case

A movie actor meets a massage therapist. Eventually, they decide to have a baby through artificial means and are successful. They drift apart and a child custody case ensues. Although this may seem like a plot line from a dramatic film, readers from St. Charles, Missouri, may recognize the story as the case of Jason Patric and former lover, Danielle Schreiber. Unlike any movie, their story still has to find its happy ending.

The 47-year-old actor, who is best known for his "Lost Boys" movie role, decided to have a baby with 41-year-old Schreiber. After failed attempts to get pregnant, the pair, who was no longer a couple but remained on friendly terms, decided to try artificial insemination in 2009. The procedure was successful, and Gus Theodore, named after each parent's family members, was born.

Having a child rekindled their romance and, without living together, they shared parental responsibilities for two years. Two years ago, the couple permanently ended their relationship. Patric, who wanted to share custody, filed a paternity claim and the case went through mediation. During that time, the actor was allowed to see Gus. However, Schreiber suddenly started to withhold visits. Then, the legal dispute between them started, both in the court room and in the media.

The legality and the extent of parenting rights from sperm donation have been challenged many times during the course of the dispute. Both people have counted wins and losses. Patric has even said that the purpose of his various television appearances were to leave a trail for his child, so that someday, he would know how hard his father fought for him.

Although much publicized, the actor's case may not be as unusual as St. Charles residents may think. Paternity, through sperm donation or more traditional means, is a serious issue and fathers should find the best legal remedy possible if they want to be a part of their child's life.

Source: The New York Times, "Does 'Sperm Donor' Mean 'Dad'?," Brooks Barnes, May 2, 2014

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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