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Theft of another kind

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to conceive. There's an old saying that goes something like that. Our version of the saying might well apply best to the case of a man, two women and a sperm bank far from Las Vegas.

A jury recently ruled in favor of the man and his first ex-girlfriend and against the Houston sperm bank that gave his second ex-girlfriend the man's semen without his permission. The second ex went to a fertility clinic with the ill-gotten sample, became pregnant and is now the mother of a little boy. It's one of the stranger child custody cases you will find anywhere.

The man and his first ex-girlfriend went to the sperm bank in 2002 to store a sample in case they wanted to have a child after his impending vasectomy. They signed documents at the time that made them custodians of the deposit. They split up without having any children.

The man later began dating a second woman. When the two of them broke up, she went to the sperm bank -- without the permission of either her ex-boyfriend or his first ex-girlfriend -- and got a portion of the stored sample. She became pregnant and bore a baby boy.

According to a news report, the lawsuit filed by the man and his first ex-girlfriend against the sperm bank and his second ex-girlfriend bore fruit: the sperm bank must pay the plaintiffs $250,000 each. The second ex-girlfriend must pay up, too: $250,000 to the first ex-girlfriend and $125,000 to her ex-boyfriend.

The second ex-girlfriend is custodial parent of the child, however, and reportedly will not let her ex near the boy now five years old. The man says if he and the boy ever meet, he will share the entire story with his son.

Though few family law cases get as convoluted as this one, there are many, many with emotions just as powerful. An attorney experienced in complex child custody matters can help you sort through your legal options, guard your parental rights and most of all, protect your child's best interests.

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