Kansas judge rules sperm donor is legal father, owes child support
TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) -
A Kansas judge says because a man didn't use a licensed doctor when he donated his sperm to a lesbian couple, he must pay child support.
William Marotta is the child's father under state law in part because he participated in an in-home artificial insemination after responding to an online ad, according to the ruling.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi wrote Wednesday that because a licensed physician was not involved in the artificial insemination process, Marotta is more than a sperm donor and thus responsible for the child.
Marotta has been fighting the state's attempts to make him pay thousands of dollars in child support. It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday whether he would file an appeal.
All parties agree that Marotta responded to an online ad by Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer in 2009. The couple paid $50 to Marotta, who did not seek legal advice. They signed a contract in which Marotta was not to be responsible for the child. Schreiner bore a daughter in December 2009.
However, the couple separated within the next year. According to legal documents, Schreiner sought financial aid from the state even before the child was born. In 2011, she sought food, cash and medical assistance for the child. She listed the child's father as a "donor."
But after determining that Marotta wasn't an anonymous donor, the Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the case in October 2012, demanding that Marotta pay child support and for the child's birth.
The two women contend they are the parents, but the judge found they did not follow state law saying donors only give up their rights when they use a physician for artificial insemination and sign certain documents.
The judge wrote Wednesday that the Kansas Supreme Court has found "mere ignorance of the law is no excuse for failing to abide by it."
Kansas is one of the few states that follow guidelines from 1973 rather than following guidelines from 2000 or 2002 that reflect the changing times and technology including in the area of artificial insemination. The judge said "for reasons known only to the legislature, Kansas is one of the states that remains in line" with the 1973 guidelines and thus she has to follow those guidelines rather than more recent ones.
"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) was a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of his parental rights and responsibilities," Mattivi wrote. "The court is bound by the ordinary meaning and plain language of (state law) and it may not look the other way simply because the parties intended a different result than that afforded by the statute."
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Wednesday, January 22 2014 7:57 PM EST2014-01-23 00:57:03 GMT
A Topeka, KS, man thought he was doing a lesbian couple a favor by donating sperm in 2009, but now the donor could have to pay thousands in child support. It's a mess that William Marotta said he's willMore >>
A Topeka, KS, man thought he was doing a lesbian couple a favor by donating sperm in 2009, but now the donor could have to pay thousands in child support.More >>