[182 NJSuper Page 103] This matter comes before the court on plaintiff wife's motion for pendente lite support and custody of the infant child, J.S., who was born during the course of plaintiff's marriage to defendant but was conceived by a technique of artificial insemination known as "artificial insemination by donor" (AID). Since a full exposition of the factual background is necessary for a proper understanding of the case, the following findings of fact are made.
The parties were married on December 6, 1977. Defendant had been previously married and divorced. After a third child was born of the prior marriage and before the marriage to present plaintiff, defendant voluntarily underwent a vasectomy operation which sterilized him. Plaintiff was aware of defendant's infertility prior to their marriage.
Several months after marriage plaintiff learned of the AID procedure. The parties were referred by their family physician to Lewis Ladocsi, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who specialized in the field of fertility. Ladocsi first saw the couple on July 8, 1978, at which time he intensively interrogated the couple, took a joint history and explained the AID process to them. He also noted physical characteristics of defendant for the purpose of obtaining a "matching" donor and directed that blood tests be taken for the purpose of aiding in the screening of donor applicants. Ladocsi questioned defendant closely in order to determine whether he understood and consented to AID. Defendant stipulates he gave his verbal consent to the procedure at that time.
Ladocsi did not, however obtain any written consent from defendant. He indicated that at the time it was not his practice to obtain written consents from AID patients. His present practice, however, is to obtain written consent before commencing the AID process. New Jersey statutory law does not require written consent be obtained by a physician before the commencement of AID procedures, and did not in 1978.
A suitable donor was selected and a series of three artificial insemination procedures took place in July 1978. The initial insemination process was successful and plaintiff was tested positive for pregnancy on August 19, 1978. That pregnancy did not result in a live birth because a spontaneous miscarriage took place in early September 1978.
Defendant, after the miscarriage, expressed feelings of sympathy and urged plaintiff to continue the procedures when she was able to do so. Although defendant testified to the contrary,
the court finds that he expressed no reservations to continuing the AID procedures for any reason at that time.
During 1978 the parties had several discussions concerning the continuing cost of the AID procedures, which placed a strain on the family budget and resulted in several overdrafts on the joint checking account. Defendant contends he told plaintiff to stop the AID treatments because of the cost. This testimony is not credible and is inconsistent with plaintiff's convincing testimony that defendant accompanied plaintiff to Ladocsi's office for the insemination procedure on several occasions in 1979, including at least one occasion in October 1979. Defendant also admitted he never advised Ladocsi at any time that he had any reservations concerning continuing the AID procedure.
Commencing in November 1978 plaintiff continued with the AID procedures at the rate of approximately three inseminations during her fertile cycles. Various medications were prescribed and various examinations were employed to confirm her continuing ability to conceive, since she failed to become pregnant for many months. Finally, in October 1979 she became pregnant with J.S.
After plaintiff's pregnancy was confirmed defendant became distant and uncommunicative. On December 30, 1979 he left the marital premises "to think things out." In a telephone conversation between the parties shortly after that date defendant advised plaintiff he objected to her pregnancy.
The parties continued to live separately until the child was born on July 28, 1980. Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce on October 7, 1980, seeking support for the child. Defendant has ...