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Sperm donor to lesbian couple sued for child support

7 January 2013
Appeared in BioNews 687

A sperm donor in Kansas, USA, has been ordered to pay $6,000 in child support to a lesbian couple who he helped conceive. William Marotta donated sperm to Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer after seeing their advert on classifieds website Craigslist. Schreiner subsequently gave birth to a daughter in 2009.

'This was totally unexpected. The very first thing that went through my mind was that no good deed goes unpunished', said Marotta to Reuters.

The donation was given under a written agreement that Marotta would not have parental rights and so not be considered the father of the child or liable for child support. However, when Schreiner and Bauer ran into money difficulties in 2012 an application for child support was made to the Department of Children and Families (DFC).

'We never intended for him [Marotta] to support her', said Bauer to the Today Show. The DFC asserts that Schreiner, who is listed as the child's mother and filed the claim for support, misled them by claiming she did not know the name of the sperm donor, reports the Topeka Capital Journal.

In the state of Kansas when a child support claim is filed, the DFC is legally bound to find the biological father and petition him to pay. Kansas state is therefore seeking to have Marotta declared the father of the child and made financially responsible for her welfare, irrespective of the previous contract made between Marotta, Schreiner and Bauer. The DFC argues that the contract ignores 'well-established law in this state that a person cannot contract away his or her obligations to support their child', reports Fox News.

Kansas law declares that a father can only be freed of financial responsibility for his child if his sperm was donated in a licensed clinic. However, Marotta gave the couple a container of his semen directly. State law does not specifically address the donor's rights when a licensed doctor or clinic is not involved. Marotta will therefore petition the court to dismiss the child support claim.

'The state of Kansas is lagging behind in following the trend', said Marotta's lawyer, Ben Swinnen to New York Daily News. 'It is a freeze, in my opinion, on artificial insemination and alternative family settings'.

Concerns have been raised about the effects this case will have on the number of people donating. Shannon Minter, legal director for the American National Center for Lesbian Rights said: 'It certainly might have a negative effect on other men's willingness to help couples who need a donor, which would be harmful to everyone'.

In a recent case in the UK a private sperm donor was ordered to pay child support for a child he helped conceive because he had not donated through a licensed centre (as reported in BioNews 680). Marotta's case will be heard at a court hearing on 8 January.

2 December 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A US judge has ruled that a man who donated sperm to a same-sex couple, after responding to an online advertisement, is not the child's legal father and will not be liable for child support...
11 May 2015 - by Dr Reuven Brandt 
The type of equipment used and the involvement of licensed medical professionals seem irrelevant to the moral facts that determine which individuals ought to have recognized rights and responsibilities for the children they help create...
6 October 2014 - by Ari Haque 
A university professor who offered private, 'insemination services' has been sentenced to a nine-month suspended sentence for sexually assaulting a woman...
27 January 2014 - by Nishat Hyder 
A Kansas court has ruled that a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple in response to a Craigslist advertisement is the legal father of the resulting child. The decision means the man can be required to pay child support....
5 August 2013 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A sperm donor conceived a child during an 'intense extramarital affair', a High Court judge has ruled, and has been ordered to pay litigation costs of £300,000 and child maintenance...
5 November 2012 - by Joseph Jebelli 
A man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple 13 years ago in a private arrangement has been ordered to pay child support. He has called on the Government to make changes in the law so that private sperm donors are treated fairly....
22 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard 
A man in Queensland, Australia, who acted as a known sperm donor for a woman in what appeared to be a private arrangement, has been awarded shared parental responsibility over a girl he fathered...
24 September 2012 - by Tom Barrow 
The High Court has awarded a lesbian couple sole custody rights for a child conceived using donor sperm and a surrogate's egg after a three-year battle over parenthood...
16 July 2012 - by Ruth Retassie 
A Californian woman is suing the US Food and Drug Administration over its sperm donation policy...
17 October 2011 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
Increasing numbers of women under the age of 25 are turning to sperm donors online, an investigation by the Sunday Times has shown. Many of these women have stable jobs and good support networks, and see no reason to wait before starting a family...
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