A Kansas court ruled on Wednesday that a sperm donor must pay child support for his offspring, because he and the mother did not conduct their transaction through a state-approved channel.
In 2009, Jennifer Schreiner and her then-partner, Angela Bauer, wanted to have child but didn't want to deal with the prohibitive costs of having a doctor manage the artificial insemination. They posted an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a man to donate his sperm. William Marotta rose to the occasion.
Marotta had no intention of fathering the child. He signed a contract with the couple to relieve himself of any parental responsibilities. He handed over a plastic cup of sperm, and Schriener and Bauer handled the insemination process from there.
Schriener gave birth to a girl, and eventually applied for her daughter to receive health insurance from the state. In an exchange that Bauer described as “threatening,” state officials demanded to know the identity of the donor before allowing the child to receive any benefits. The state wouldn't accept child support from Bauer, since she is not a legal guardian.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCP) contacted Marotta, insisting that he be legally declared the girl's father, so he could pay back $6,000 in child support and then make all future payments. The DCP and Marotta went to court in 2012.
Solidarity from Shriener and Bauer and proof of their contract with Marotta wasn't enough for the Shawnee County District Court. Judge Mary Mattiva ruled that the donor would have to bear the financial burden of his biological daughter, because he gave his sperm directly to the couple instead of a properly licensed doctor. She explains:
In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to conform to the statutory requirements 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 rights and responsibilities.
“The Marotta decision 'appears' to be a case of first impression in Kansas, the judge said. That means a specific issue in the ruling hasn't been dealt with before in that court, and there isn't binding authority on the matter,” explains the Capital-Journal.
Marotta's lawyer was critical of not only the outcome, but of the DCP's behavior. "The cost to the state to bring this case far outweighs any benefit the state would get,” he told CNN.
Marotta announced today that he plans to appeal the decision.