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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Sharon Sullivan and Brian Keith Russell signed an agreement in February 2003 whereby Russell agreed to provide his semen to Sullivan for purpose of artificial insemination. The co-parenting agreement stated that the child would be Russell’s child as if he and Sullivan were married, stated that Sullivan would provide the child’s primary residence, and set a possession schedule for Russell. Conception occurred and a child was born in March 2004. Shortly before the child’s birth, however, Russell and Sullivan had a disagreement, prompting Russell, on March 31, to file an original petition to adjudicate parentage, a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and claiming breach of contract. In his pleading, Russell stated that he was the child’s father. He sought a decree establishing the parent-child relationship between him and the child. He also sought an order appointing him and Sullivan joint managing conservators, the imposition of temporary orders for possession during the pendency of his action, injunctive relief preventing Sullivan from hiding or moving the child or using any of Russell’s leftover sperm for any other purpose, and attorneys’ fees. Sullivan filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing Russell does not have standing under the Family Code to bring a proceeding to adjudicate parentage because he is merely a sperm donor with no parental rights. The trial court denied Sullivan’s plea to the jurisdiction. Sullivan now files for a writ of mandamus. HOLDING:Writ denied. In a majority opinion substituting for one issued Feb. 6, the court sets forth Russell’s argument: that his standing to maintain a parentage proceeding derives from Family Code 160.602 as “a man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated.” On the other hand, Sullivan says Russell is not such a person, because Russell is a “donor” who lacks parental rights or standing pursuant to Family Code 160.102(6), which defines the term “donor,” and under Family Code 160.702, which states that a donor is not the parent of a child conceived by artificial means. Before reaching the issue of whether Russell is a donor who lacks parental rights, the court says it must first determine whether a person’s status as a donor is part of the inquiry as to whether he has standing to maintain a parentage proceeding. If, under the statutory standing criteria, Russell has standing as a “man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated,” then the issue of Russell’s status as a donor is not relevant to standing, even though, on the merits, the trial court may decide that he is a donor with no parental rights. As such, this court must presume for standing purposes only that Russell’s claims have merit; that is, that he is not a donor and that he has parental rights. However, if the statute requires that men disprove donor status before they can have standing to maintain a parentage proceeding, then the court must address whether Russell is a donor. The court tries to determine the meaning of the phrase “man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated.” The court notes the paradoxical result of reading some of the relevant statutes together: a man cannot seek an adjudication of his paternity unless he has standing, yet 160.602 states that a man generally has no standing to seek an adjudication of his paternity unless his paternity is to be adjudicated. To solve the paradox, the court looks at the object sought to be obtained by the statute, the circumstances under which the statute was enacted, the legislative history, former statutory provisions and the consequences of a particular construction. The court also asked the Texas Attorney General to submit an amicus curiae brief. Based on consideration of all of these factors, the court holds that “at a minimum, section 160.602(3) confers standing on a man alleging himself to be the biological father of the child in question and seeking an adjudication that he is the father of that child.” The court further holds that, under the statute, the issue of the man’s status as a donor under 60.702 is to be decided at the merits stage of the litigation rather than as part of the threshold issue of standing. Finding it undisputed that Russell alleges that he is the biological father of the child and he has filed a parentage proceeding seeking an adjudication that he is the child’s father, the court rules that, as a matter of law, Russell has standing to maintain a proceeding to adjudicate his parentage of the child. The court finds that many of Sullivan’s argument go to the merits of the case, which the court will not address. OPINION:Frost, J.; Hedges, C.J., Frost and Guzman, JJ.. CONCURRENCE:Hedges, C.J. (substitute concurring opinion) “While I join the majority’s holding and disposition, I respectfully disagree with its reasoning in reaching its conclusion. . . . Because the plain and ordinary meaning of the relevant statutory provision in that chapter clearly confers standing upon a party such as Russell in the present case, I respectfully concur.”

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