LOS ANGELES — He is a movie star who shot to fame on a motorcycle in “The Lost Boys.” She is a California massage therapist from a prominent East Coast family. Four years ago, with his sperm, her eggs and the wonder of in vitro fertilization, they produced a child.The caution is that there are legal procedures for avoiding the trouble. Don't follow them, and you are at the mercy of some stupid judge. If you want to avoid paternal responsibility, do a sperm donation thru a physician and sign the necessary paperwork showing your intent. If you want paternal responsibility, make that clear to the physician and sign the birth certificate.
From there, the tale gets very, very messy.
For the last two years, Jason Patric and Danielle Schreiber have been waging what has become one of the highest-profile custody fights in the country — one that scrambles a gender stereotype, raises the question of who should be considered a legal parent and challenges state laws that try to bring order to the Wild West of nonanonymous sperm donations.
Played out on cable news, dueling “Today” show appearances, YouTube videos and radio call-in talk shows, this rancorous dispute, which heads back into a California courtroom next Thursday, serves as cautionary tale for any man considering donating sperm to a friend and any woman considering accepting it from one, experts say.
The Lost Boys movie was a cult classic, and is a favorite here in Santa Cruz for how it captures the local culture. It has stylish scenes, good music, cheap amusement park, beach bums, comic book freaks, aging hippies, and teenaged vampires.
Ms. Schreiber has tried to block Mr. Patric from using their son’s name on Twitter, Facebook and at fund-raising events in relation to Stand Up for Gus. She has been losing that fight. Last week, a Los Angeles judge denied a restraining order request on the ground that it would violate the actor’s First Amendment rights. (Her lawyer, Mr. Heather, said she does not plan to drop this element of the fight, perhaps pursuing a deceptive fund-raising case.)He still has free speech rights, if no paternal rights.
I guess the argument is that if Gus is a child, and if the mom has sole custody, then the dad should not be able to speak for him by operating a web site called StandUpForGus.com. That is, only Gus's custodial parent can speak for Gus.
Throughout his career, Mr. Patric has been a reluctant celebrity, courting the spotlight only as a publicity tool for his films. So why has he gone so public in this instance, appearing on talk shows like “Katie” and news programs like “20/20” to publicize parental alienation?Good answer. This is an annoying anti-father argument that I have also encountered. The suggestion is that the boy will somehow be harmed by the public knowledge that his dad tried to see him. It is nonsense. The truth is more nearly the opposite, as the boy is more likely to be harmed by feelings of abandonment.
“I want to leave a huge trail so Gus will someday know how hard I fought for him,” he said.
But what will Gus someday think of Mr. Patric’s decision to speak abrasively about Ms. Schreiber? “I don’t say negative things about her,” Mr. Patric said. “I’m not in a public spat with her.”
As far as I know, Patric has not gone on a character assassination against the mom, as moms very commonly do against dads in court. I haven't either. I just respond to allegations against me, and explain why I am a good dad. It is hard to imagine how any child could see that as a bad thing, especially if the truth is on the public record.
I cannot help but thinking that a big movie star like Patric could admit his mistake, take his loss, and find another girlfriend to bear him another child. And next time, get his name on the birth certificate. But then when someone tells me that he lost a dog, and I explain how easy it is to get another dog, I get told that I am an insensitive jerk.