For the past year, actor Jason Patric has conducted a media campaign seeking publicity for his quest to gain parental rights over a child conceived in vitro with his donated sperm. Patric portrays himself as a distraught father, a sort of "Leave it to Beaver" personality, unfairly kept from seeing the child because of a California law that restricts the rights of sperm donors.
So why won't the child's mother, Danielle Schreiber, let Patric see her 4-year-old son Gus, you might ask.
One answer is contained in Ms. Schreiber's sworn statements that led to a court granting a one-year Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) against Patric. The DVRO prohibits Patric from doing the following to Ms. Schreiber: "harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (sexually or otherwise), hit, follow, stalk, molest, destroy personal property, disturb the peace, keep under surveillance, or block movements" -- among other things.
In this sworn testimony, Ms. Schreiber detailed Patric's long history of physical and verbal abuse against her. She told the court how he struck her on the face with the handset of a landline phone so hard it caused bruises, swelling and contusions. In another incident, she alleges he shoved her violently, causing her to slam her head against the wall. In yet another rage, he allegedly grabbed and squeezed her leg so hard that it caused bruises -- to mention just a few examples.
Ms. Schreiber also testified that Patric regularly hurled anti-Semitic slurs at her, repeatedly calling her "Jew C__t," "Ms. Jew Lawyer" and "Ms. Jew Schreiber." These comments were made both privately and in front of her toddler child, including once at the boy's pre-school. She said that when drunk he urinated in a closet and on furniture. During the course of the litigation, Patric taunted, threatened and harassed her with emails, texts and late night calls.
Finally, having had enough, Ms. Schreiber sought the court's protection for herself and her child. The issuance of the DVRO against Patric -- which is enforceable not only in California but also in any State under the federal Violence Against Women Act -- is a serious matter. DVROs are not readily granted.
The DVRO against Patric was not granted, as he has portrayed, because he benignly sought access to Ms. Schreiber's son. It was issued after the court heard, in a three-day trial, Ms. Schreiber's testimony about the physical and emotional abuse she experienced and Patric's testimony in rebuttal.
People have asked, if Patric struck her and was so blatantly anti-Semitic and abusive, why did she stay in or rekindle a relationship with him? Unfortunately, doing so is not uncommon. Neither is denial of the abuse by the abuser. Fortunately, Ms. Schreiber realized what was happening, broke it off and sought and obtained protection for herself and her child.
No individual should have to live in fear for herself or her child. No mother should be forced to allow her child to be exposed to someone who has engaged in this kind of conduct, especially if that person has no legal rights to have contact with them. The fact is, Patric was a sperm donor, and the trial and appellate court found him to be one in accordance with a California law that provides that sperm donors do not have parental rights.
Further, Patric's recent statements that he intended to co-parent and rear Ms. Schreiber's child are directly contradicted by what is contained in a 24 page hand-written letter he wrote Ms. Schreiber prior to providing his sperm. This isn't just Ms. Schreiber saying that: The court found that there never was any agreement between Patric and Danielle to co-parent and that Patric's testimony that he intended to do so from the very beginning was "not credible."
Patric's actions further prove this point: Patric was not present at the birth, nor did he pay for it. His name is not on the birth certificate. He has not provided and has not offered to provide financial support for Ms. Schreiber's child. For the first year of the young boy's life, Patric had only sporadic contact with him. Patric and Ms. Schreiber began a long distance dating involvement when her son was 13 months old. But, even then, Patric's contact with the child was entirely incidental to Patric's spending time with the child's mother. Patric was merely a visitor in Ms. Schreiber's life and the life of her son.
To be clear: At no time did Patric ever live with Ms. Schreiber and/or her child. They never "raised their son together," as Patric and his lawyer misrepresent. Prior to suing for custody, Patric never spent more than one hour alone with Ms. Schreiber's son. He never had a child's room or a crib in his house until after he filed suit.
The fact is, Ms. Schreiber never agreed that Mr. Patric would co-parent her child. The court and the appellate court both found his claim that the signature lines of intended parent on the medical consent forms had no significance since those forms only consented to the IVF procedure, the risks and the process but had nothing to do with any intention to co-parent. Nor can he point to any legal document in which he ever acknowledged Ms. Schreiber's son as his own or claimed him as a beneficiary or dependent.
So, why doesn't Danielle Schreiber want to allow Jason Patric to have visitation with her son? The answer should be obvious: First, Patric has no legal right to do so and second, the safety and well being of herself and her child.
Patricia Glaser, a partner of the law firm of Glaser Weil, is the lead attorney for Danielle Schreiber in her defense in a paternity suit brought by Jason Patric.