Kansas wants sperm donor to pay child support

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is trying to force a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple to pay child support, arguing that the agreement he and the women signed releasing him from all parental duties was invalid because they didn’t go through a doctor.

Under Kansas law, a doctor’s involvement shields a man from being held responsible for a child conceived through artificial insemination. At least 10 other states have similar laws, including California, Illinois and Missouri, according to the KansasDepartment for Children and Families.

William Marotta and the couple he helped to have a daughter didn’t go through a doctor, so the department is asking a state court to hold him responsible for about $6,000 that the child’s biological mother received through public assistance — as well as future child support.

The department also asked the court to appoint an attorney to represent the now 3-year-old girl, independently of her mother.

Mr. Marotta is asking that the case be dismissed, arguing that he is not the child’s legal father. A hearing is set for Tuesday.

Department spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said Wednesday that when a single mother seeks benefits for a child, the department routinely tries to determine the child’s paternity and require the father to make support payments to lessen the potential cost to taxpayers.

She argued that the law regarding artificial insemination is an incentive for donors and prospective mothers to work with a doctor.

“I believe that is the intent of the law so that we don’t end up with these ambiguous situations,” she told The Associated Press.

Mr. Marotta, a 46-year-old Topeka resident, answered an ad on Craigslist in 2009 from Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, a local couple who said they were seeking a sperm donor.

After exchanging emails and meeting, Mr. Marotta and the couple signed an agreement in which the women agreed to “hold him harmless” financially. It also said the child’s birth certificate would not list a father.

But the state agency argues the agreement isn’t valid, because instead of working with a doctor, Mr. Marotta agreed to drop off containers with his sperm at the couple’s home, according to prepared court documents the department gave to the AP late Wednesday.

The women handled the artificial insemination themselves using a syringe, and Ms. Schreiner eventually became pregnant, according to the documents. The couple broke up in 2010, and last year Ms. Schreiner received public assistance from the state to help care for the girl.

“My ex-partner and I wanted to have a baby,” Ms. Schreiner said in a written statement to the department in January 2012, also included in the department’s latest filing. “We were a gay couple so we had a sperm donor.”

Mr. Marotta told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he is “a little scared about where this is going to go, primarily for financial reasons.” His attorney didn’t return a phone message Wednesday from the AP, and there was no listing for his home phone number in Topeka.

Phone numbers listed for Ms. Schreiner and Ms. Bauer were either incorrect or out of service, and Ms. Schreiner did not respond to a message sent by Facebook.

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