Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Child Support Obligation for a Sperm Donation?

A Kansas man, William Marotta, responded to a Craigslist ad placed by a same sex couple seeking a sperm donor. One of the woman impregnated herself using a catheter and syringe without any physician’s assistance. A child was born from this process in 2009, she is now 4 years old. Marotta and the couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, signed a written agreement where Marotta relinquished any and all parental rights and Bauer and Schreiner held him harmless for any child support claims raised by any entity or person. The couple split up in 2010 and share joint custody their eight children, including the one that Marotta biologically fathered.

Due to some health issues resulting in financial troubles, Bauer and Schreiner applied for public assistance. The Kansas Department for Children and Families demanded that they disclose the identity of the sperm donor or else the child would lose health insurance. The couple released Marotta’s name and the state opened a child support case against him. The state argues that the written agreement signed by the couple and Marotta is invalid because the insemination was not performed by a licensed physician.

Marotta and his wife are fighting any obligation owed for this child. The Kansas court is likely to reach a decision by the end of this year.

Non-traditional couples and parenting are becoming increasingly more common. Kansas, at least in the articles I have seen, has not raised the issue of going after the non-custodial, non-biological parent for reimbursement, or acknowledging that the non-birth parent was the other parent of this child rather than the biological father who, all parties agree, has had no contact with this child, and has no relationship with the child or Bauer or Schreiner. Kansas is not the only court that has addressed the issue of holding a sperm donor responsible for child support for their biological children resulting from the donation. Most of those cases that do hold the donor liable involve a father who has an active role in the child’s life or who holds himself out to be the child’s father.

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