Judge Rules Sperm Donor is Not Responsible for Paying Child Support

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 1, 2016   |   10:57AM   |   Topeka, KS

New reproductive and fertility procedures are raising difficult legal and ethical questions in our modern society.

Last week, a matter involving a sperm donor and child support was up for consideration in a Kansas court. CBS News reports Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi ruled that a Topeka man is not legally obligated to provide child support for a child conceived with his sperm.

The man, William Marotta, donated his sperm to a lesbian couple who advertised on Craigslist, according to the report. A baby girl conceived with his sperm was born in December 2009; the same-sex couple later separated, the report states.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families sought to have Marotta pay child support for the girl’s care, but Judge Mattivi ruled that the child legally is not his.

Instead, the judge ruled that the woman who did not give birth to the girl is legally the second parent in the matter, according to the report. Mattivi said she based her decision partly on the fact that Marotta has had minimal contact with the child, the AP reports.

Here’s more from the AP:

The department filed a petition in 2012 to have Marotta declared the child’s legal father and require him to pay child support after the women, birth mother Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, separated and Schreiner received assistance from the state. The department initially sought to reclaim about almost $6,100 in expenses associated with the child’s birth.

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The case illustrated how older laws on assisted reproduction in Kansas and others have not been updated. Charles Baylor, Marotta’s attorney, said the Kansas agency’s position was “radical” and discriminated against same-sex couples.

“If the presumptive parent, in this case the non-biological mother, had been a man, they never would have gone after the sperm donor,” Baylor said.

The agency argued that Marotta was legally on the hook for child support — even though he never intended to act as the child’s father — because the two women did not use a physician. In her ruling, Mattivi said Bauer is unable to work and is receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Right now, American courts are wrestling with new legal quandaries related to modern reproductive technology, including surrogacy and in vitro fertilization.

Right now, in a high-profile court battle, “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiance Nick Loeb are fighting over the fate of their frozen human embryos. In the spring of 2015, Loeb filed a lawsuit against Vergara to stop her from destroying the pair of embryos. A source close to Loeb explained that he didn’t want to see the embryos destroyed because he believes that life begins at conception. The couple created the embryos through in vitro fertilization.

The celebrity case is scheduled for trial next year, according to the Washington Post.