Society

Judge Rules Sperm Donor Off The Hook For Child Support

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A man in Topeka, Kansas, desperate for some extra cash, decided to answer a Craigslist ad in which a lesbian couple was looking for a sperm donor so they could have a child. However, he never expected that the women would later take him to court to extract child support payments.

When birth mother Jennifer Schreiner and her partner, Angela Bauer, separated, Schreiner began receiving Social Security disability benefits from the state in order to make ends meet for her and her little girl, according to The Associated Press. Looking to offset the payments, the State Department for Children and Families tried to force the child's biological father, sperm donor William Marotta, to pay $6,100 in birthing expenses in addition to years of child support. 

However, a Nov. 22 ruling proclaimed that that Marotta should not be considered to be the girl's second parent, as he had only had minimal contact with the child since her December 2009 birth. Rather, Bauer should be considered the second parent as she was involved directly in the child's upbringing before the two separated.

State law mandates that if a man donates sperm to a doctor for insemination, he is not legally the child's parent unless there is a written agreement saying otherwise, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. But the Department for Children and Families claimed that because a doctor was not involved in the insemination, Marotta was legally bound to pay.  

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Bauer inseminated herself at her home with a syringe because she wanted the act to be more personal. Marotta was paid $50 for each sperm donation and never intended to pay child support or have any real contact with the child. 

Marotta's lawyer, Charles Baylor, called the state department's actions discriminatory against same-sex couples.

"If the presumptive parent, in this case the non-biological mother, had been a man, they never would have gone after the sperm donor," he said to the AP.

Judge Mary Mattivi says that since Schreiner and Bauer acted as the parents, they should be responsible for financially providing for the child. Although Marotta is biologically the father, Bauer's presumption of parenthood is superior in this case. 

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Secretary of the department Phyllis Gilmore says that "the law pertaining to sperm donors is clear and was ignored in this ruling." She added that the department was disappointed with the ruling, but didn't clarify if it would appeal.

Sources: AP, Topeka Capital-Journal / Photo credit: Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr

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