Health

Kansas Court Rules Sperm Donor Is Child's Father, Must Pay Child Support

| by Jonathan Wolfe

When Kansas resident William Marotta agreed to donate sperm to a lesbian couple in 2008, he surely couldn’t have predicted any of this. Though Marotta only agreed to help the couple conceive a child, a Kansas court ruled yesterday that he is the baby’s legal father and that, accordingly, he must support the child financially.

The case started back in 2008 when Marotta responded to a Craigslist ad by lesbian couple Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner.  The couple was asking for a sperm donor. Marotta responded, donated his sperm, and nine months later – surprise – a child was born. The two parties even signed a contract stating that Marotta waived his parental rights to the child.

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In 2012, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (KDCF) filed a claim seeking to have Marotta declared the father of the child. They argue Marotta is the baby’s father for two reasons. The parties never involved a physician in the artificial insemination process, which is required by law. Second, the right to parental support belongs to the child – not the parent – and accordingly is not the parent’s right to give up.

The case closed yesterday, and the court ruled in favor of the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Unless Marotta and his legal team successfully appeal the ruling, Marotta will owe $6,000 to the state in public assistance given to the child and be held liable for future child support payments.

Here’s what presiding Judge Mary Mattivi had to say about the ruling.

“In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties' self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental right and responsibilities to the child,” she wrote.

A Wednesday filing by the KDCF adds that there is a "well-established law in this state that a person cannot contract away his or her obligations to support their child."

Meanwhile, Marotta’s attorney has criticized the court’s ruling, saying the state is “vilifying [his] client.”

"We stand by that contract," Swinnen said. "The insinuation is offensive, and we are responding vigorously to that. We stand by our story. There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it."