Should a sperm donor have to pay child support?

FILE - In this file photo from Dec. 31, 2012, William Marotta poses for a portrait in Topeka, Kan. A Shawnee County District Court judge ruled Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2013, that Marotta is the father and required to pay child support. AP Photo/Topeka Capital-Journal, Jeff Davis, File

A U.S. judge has ruled that a Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple – after responding to their online ad – must pay child support.

Judge Mary Mattivi wrote Wednesday that because a licensed physician was not involved in the artificial insemination process, William Marotta is “more than a sperm donor and thus responsible for the child.”

READ MORE: Judge says U.S. man who donated sperm to lesbian couple must pay child support

Marotta was ordered to pay for child support after Angela Bauer, 40, and Jennifer Schreiner, 34, requested welfare for their three-year-old daughter last year.

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Marotta said he answered a Craigslist ad that was placed by Bauer and Schreiner in March of 2009.

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The Topeka Capital-Journal said the couple and Marotta signed “an agreement holding him harmless for support of the child, a daughter Schreiner bore after being artificially inseminated.”

The state does not recognize same-sex unions. The Kansas Department for Children and Families (KDCF) said that the state is required “under the law to determine the father of a child when someone seeks state benefits.”  KDCF filed the case to have Marotta declared the father of the young girl in October 2012 after officials demanded the couple reveal the identity of the sperm donor.

Should a sperm donor have to pay child support?

“Many sperm banks will ship sperm directly to private homes where women take it upon themselves to do at-home insemination. And since no licenced physician is used, the sperm donor could be held financially responsible for the child born of his sperm if the woman, at any time, needs to seek state financial assistance.”

In a January 2013 article, a legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told Reuters “it is unfortunate and unfair” that Kansas is seeking money from a sperm donor.

“It certainly might have a negative effect on other men’s willingness to help couples who need a donor, which would be harmful to everyone,” said Shannon Minter.

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“I also think it undermines everyone’s respect for the law when you see it operate so arbitrarily.”

“Nevertheless, donors whether men or women need to think twice about entering into any agreement without getting the appropriate authorities involved,” said lawyers of Flesicher and Ravreby in a post. “No private agreement can guarantee you’ll be relieved of your support obligations.”

The attorneys said that while it may be costly up front to do things “right” (through an attorney and a physician, and following state law), it can  “be far more expensive and emotionally damaging to get caught doing things ‘wrong’ and then end up in a legal battle over the fate of your children.”

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