Culture Wars/Current Controversies

US court rules sperm donor to lesbian couple is legal father and must pay child support

The Independent

Kansas state sues Marotta for $6,000 in child support for four-year-old girl

 William Marotta, of Topeka, Kansas, had argued that he had waived his parental rights and did not intend to be a father to the child, who is now four-years-old.

He said he signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities after responding to an advert placed by Jennifer Schreiner and her partner at the time, Angela Bauer, on Craigslist seeking a sperm donor.

But this claim was rejected by Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi, who said the parties did not involve a licensed physician in the artificial insemination process and thus Mr Marotta didn’t qualify as a sperm donor, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, who have now separated The state was seeking to have Mr Marotta declared the child’s father so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided to the child’s mother, as well as future child support.

Kansas does not recognise same-sex marriages and Ms Bauer could not legally adopt the child, despite continuing to care for her after they separated. When one of them became unwell and had to seek state support, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (KDCF) demanded they reveal the name of the sperm donor, which they eventually did.

The KDFC filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have Mr Marotta declared the father of the child born in 2009.

In her ruling, Mattivi 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.’

“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.”

Mr Marotta’s attorney, Benoit Swinnen said he was “disappointed” but “not totally surprised” by the ruling.

“We stand by our story”, he said. “There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it.”

3 replies »

  1. The definition of sperm donor is self explanatory. The donation of sperm does not require a third party nor does it physically REQUIRE artificial insemination. Most people cannot afford artificial insemination.

    While the Kansas law stated by the judge speaks directly to what the case is with the artificial insemination process, it does not specifically state that this is the only acceptable method by law… because the law cannot direct the method of insemination.

    i would argue that the court, in its decision, is attempting to legislate what, who and how sperm is donated and inseminated, which is clearly beyond the scope of the law.

    Rather than attacking the donor, the state should be going after the other parent, even if the state does not recognize same-sex marriage.

    As the donor has signed an agreement, which is a legal agreement under the law to waive parental rights, and has not been parental in any sense of the word or law, then there remain only two parents, who both happen to be female.

    To sue the male, rather than the other parent, because of laws related to same-sex marriage, rather than who the parents are, is ludicrous and sexist.

    The state chose to ask for the sperm donor, rather than the other parent, because of the lesbian relationship.

    Whether or not any recognition is given to same-sex marriage, the issue here is parental rights, and in this case, the state is saying that the other woman is not a parent and thus has no rights.

    I wonder if the state would also sue a rapist for child support, and then saddle the woman with that memory every time child support arrived?

    I have to wonder if Kansas also views male rapists as the father of children that are carried to term??

    I won’t go into my feelings about why artificial insemination failure rates are another reason that people without money would rather go the traditional route, especially in the case of single mothers.

    With this ruling, the court has negated/overruled the relinquishment of parental rights and now opens the door for the man in question here to sue for parental rights. That is probably the last thing the lesbian parent wants to hear, especially down the road in another relationship or marriage.

    Quite frankly, if the state says he has to pay, then I think he SHOULD have the right to take a personal and parental interest in the child’s life. If you force him to invest financially, and label him as the “father”, then I would encourage him to invest time with the child.

    For one thing, if this decision does not get overturned, then the “father” will deal with bitterness for the rest of his paying days… unless he does take the step to become a “parent” and invest himself emotionally into the situation.

    I think this was a very poor decision by the judge because it opens the doors for people to file for parental rights and emotionally torture others out of anger and revenge.

    Mark my words, you will see a rapist use this decision at some point back against the court to gain supervised visitation… and it will be for the real purpose of torturing the victim.

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