A Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple so they could have a child said “he is shocked” the state of Kansas is now trying to make him pay child support.
William Marotta, 46, donated sperm to Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer under a written agreement that he would not be considered the father of the child nor liable for child support. He also agreed to not charge the couple for his contribution. A daughter, now 3 years old, was born to Schreiner.
But in October 2012, the state filed a petition seeking to have him declared the father of the child and financially responsible for the little girl after the couple encountered money difficulties. The women split up and Bauer, the biological mother, filed for public assistance from the state.
Marotta asked the court in a hearing January 8 to dismiss the claim, which is based on a Kansas state law that the sperm must be donated through a licensed physician in order for the father to be free of any later financial obligations. Marotta gave a container of semen to the couple, who found him on Craigslist, instead of donating through a doctor or clinic.
Kansas is seeking child support from Marotta, including about $6,000 in medical expenses related to the child’s birth, according to its petition.
“This was totally unexpected,” Marotta said in a phone interview with international news agency Reuters. “The very first thing that went through my mind was that no good deed goes unpunished.”
“Kansas officials are required under the law to determine the father of a child when someone seeks state benefits,” Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Department for Children and Families, told the news agency. She said the couple was compelled to provide that information, which led to investigation of the sperm donation.
The state’s petition argues that Marotta should be declared the father and subject to financial claims because he donated the sperm directly to the women and not through a physician, as required by Kansas law.
Marotta said he’s had virtually no contact with the child, but that he and Schreiner have remained “cordial”. He said she was “pressured by the state” to provide his name as the sperm donor.
“To me, ethics need to override rules,” Marotta said.
Lawyers for Marotta argue that he had no parental rights because of his agreement with the couple and cannot be held financially responsible, citing a 2007 case in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled against a sperm donor seeking parental rights because he did not have any such agreement with the mother, lawyers for Marotta said.
“So now, we are flipping the argument around,” Marotta attorney Ben Swinnen said. If the father had no legal parental rights in the 2007 case, Marotta should be declared to have no parental obligations in the current case, the attorney argued.
Marotta, a race car mechanic, responded to an ad on Craigslist from someone offering to pay $50 for sperm donations, but he made the donation for free. Marotta said he and his wife have no children of their own but have fostered a daughter. Marotta said he was simply trying to help a couple wanting a child.
The case is scheduled to continue in an April hearing. Until then, there will be much debate on the issue from many circles.
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