Sperm Donor on the Hook for Child Support

The case of Kansas sperm donor William Marotta raises some questions about the obligations of a man who wanted to help but did not want to parent.

And the case could have implications for same-sex marriages where couples turn to artificial insemination.

About three years ago, Marotta answered a Craiglist advertisement placed by a same-sex couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner. The three entered an agreement in which Marotta donated the sperm and waived all his parental rights. Schreiner became pregnant and gave birth to a child, but subsequently she and Bauer separated. Schreiner became unemployed. She filed for public assistances. The state of Kansas wants to recover some of its costs, and it claims Marotta must pay support.

The catch is Schreiner and Marotta “didn’t go through a doctor or an attorney.”  Kansas says Marotta is still the legal father and owes $6,000 to the state to help care for the child. The state also wants Marotta to pay ongoing child support, even though Schreiner is not herself asking for it.

The problem is that Schreiner and Marotta had “do-it-yourself” artificial insemination. Kansas law says that a sperm donor is not the father of a child if a doctor handles the artificial insemination. “But it does not address the bio dad’s rights and obligations in a do-it-yourself situation, like…this case.”

Kansas claims the agreement is not proof “because there is no third party to corroborate the claim.”

Ben Swinnen, Marotta’s lawyer, said that the agreement bars Marotta from being declared a father. Swinnen says “an underlying motive” of the state is to bolster its ban on same-sex marriages. Kansas barred same-sex marriages in 2005.

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