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Court To Sperm Donor: You Owe Child Support

NPR
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A little more than four years ago, William Marotta saw an ad on Craigslist — a lesbian couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, was looking for a sperm donor so that they could conceive.

Marotta answered the ad and all parties signed a contract the couple had downloaded, aimed at relieving Marotta of any parental responsibilities. Several months later, Schreiner gave birth to a little girl.

About a year later, the couple split up. When Bauer suddenly could not work, Schreiner then applied to the state for “food, cash and medical assistance.” On her application she noted that the father of her daughter was a donor.

The state then contacted Marotta and told him he owed $6,000 for child support the state had provided. The amount has since been lowered to $4,000. Marotta and his lawyer Ben Swinnen have decided to appeal.

“Just because the law’s on the books doesn’t mean it’s right,” Marotta told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “Some laws are outdated, outmoded. They didn’t keep up with the times.”

Swinnen says Bauer wanted to support her ex-wife and their baby.

“Angela did make several attempts at contacting the state, and the state simply refused to talk to her,” Swinnen said. “The state also objected to her intervening in the case.”

District Court Judge Mary Mattivi, who ruled on the case, wrote:

Kansas law is clear that a “donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.” … This court finds that, because the parties did not provide the donor sperm to a licensed physician, the statutory basis for preclusion of paternity does not apply, and the donor therefore can be determined to be the father of the child.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families declined to comment or speak with Here & Now because the litigation is ongoing, but DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore issued a statement saying, “We appreciate the judge’s careful consideration and attention to the law. The Kansas Department for Children and Families has maintained that K.S.A 23-2208(f) makes clear that individuals must go through a licensed physician in order to avoid the financial responsibilities associated with parenthood. The court and law support this position.”

Guests

  • William Marotta, sperm donor who is being sued for child support.
  • Ben Swinnen, lawyer in Topeka, Kansas, representing William Marotta.
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