Should a sperm donor have to pay child support?
A man in Topeka, Kansas, just might.
In 2009, William Marotta thought he was doing a good deed by donating his sperm to a same-sex couple looking to conceive. The couple’s doctor had refused to sign a document stating they were fit to raise a child, which ruled out the possibility of getting sperm through a sperm bank. So, they turned to Craigslist.
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Marotta responded to their ad and agreed to help them out. He signed a contract waiving any parental rights as well as any compensation, and vanished into the horizon. The couple did conceive, separated a year later, and one of the child’s mothers filed for health insurance soon after (her former partner was unable to work due to illness).
Whether a sperm donor should have to pay for child support, for the record, varies by state. But Kansas, which doesn’t recognize gay marriages, also did not recognize the financial role of the child’s non-biological mother. The state wouldn’t grant the applicant health insurance without the name of her child’s biological father, so she was forced to reveal it. In doing that, she brought their case to the attention of Kansas Department of Children and Families, which, not wanting taxpayers to foot the bill for the child, is now suing the donor for nearly $6,000 of medical expenses.
The loophole the state is using to get around the contract the donor signed upon donating is that the insemination wasn’t done under the supervision of a physician. Thus, they can’t be completely sure of the paternity, and the contract he signed is invalid. The lack of surety around the identity of the father also means, according to a spokeswoman for the state, that they’re “required by statute to establish paternity and then pursue child support from the noncustodial parent.”
The costs of fighting this case has already set the donor, a married foster father, back 10% of his annual salary, and there is a legal defense fund set up for him through his attorney’s office.