The latter is someone who has no relationship with the mother at all — personal or sexual — and simply provides the material that is used to inseminate a woman who wants to have a child on her own or where there is another man who will be the father (but cannot provide the biological material).
The former is a man in a complete, ongoing, stable relationship with a woman who gives birth to a child as a consequence of the sexual intercourse that is an integral part of their relationship.
The woman Patric never married is Danielle Schreiber. The two (according to the linked NYT article) dated "off and on for a decade" and he tried to get her pregnant through sexual intercourse.
They decided in 2009 (at a time when they were not romantically involved but still friendly) to pursue artificial insemination....When the couple broke up, Patric sued for shared custody, there was some mediation, he continuned to see the child, but then she cut off the visits. There's a dispute about whether he was scary and threatening. So that's the struggle with the woman.
The baby eventually helped rekindle a romance between Ms. Schreiber and Mr. Patric, although they never formally moved in together.
The struggle with the California statutes is:
One provides that any man can establish parentage if he “receives the child into his home and openly holds the child out as his natural child.” But another statute holds that a man who provides his sperm to a doctor for the purpose of inseminating an unmarried friend is “treated as if he were not the natural father” — unless there is a specific written agreement ahead of conception.There is no specific written agreement, but look at that first statute about holding the child out as your own. That seems to refer to a pre-DNA era. There's no question here that Patric is the biological father. So... does that mean that the law designed to protect the standard sperm donor should determine the outcome?
Is Patric's predicament unusual? The NYT connects it to the emerging practice of men informally providing sperm to women who want to be mothers. Citing "societal shifts," the Times prompts us to think about lesbian couples and single women who want to raise a child on their own who have obliging male friends and nobody bothers with the formalities sold by doctors and lawyers.
Patric is out there in public fighting for the rights of all these men who want the right to be part of their children's life. The mother is trying to get him to stop using the boy's name (for example in the name of the foundation, Stand Up for Gus), but she's been losing out to his free-speech rights. She seems mostly to want to be left alone. Meanwhile, there are the sperm donors who want to be left alone, who were only helping out a friend. Don't some of these men remain in the picture as a sort of uncle figure, doing some things with the child, but not too much?
One conspicuous celebrity can make soft-hearted/headed people think the laws need to change (or to be interpreted) to accommodate his exquisitely specific situation. I'm skeptical. I have no idea where the line should be drawn through the gray area Patric inhabits, and it's easy to say men should not become fathers outside of the traditional role, but in the midst of these "societal shifts," there's no way to protect everyone. And the knee-jerk answer "So protect the child!" is too abstract to prevent these ugly struggles.
ADDED: The NYT put this article in its "Fashion & Style" section. That means something!