US court rules sperm donor to lesbian couple is legal father and must pay child support

Kansas state sues Marotta for $6,000 in child support for four-year-old girl

A man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple after responding to an online advert has been declared the legal father of the child born to one of the women and told he must pay child support by a Kansas judge on Wednesday.

William Marotta, of Topeka, Kansas, had argued that he had waived his parental rights and did not intend to be a father to the child, who is now four-years-old.

He said he signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities after responding to an advert placed by Jennifer Schreiner and her partner at the time, Angela Bauer, on Craigslist seeking a sperm donor.

But this claim was rejected by Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi, who said the parties did not involve a licensed physician in the artificial insemination process and thus Mr Marotta didn't qualify as a sperm donor, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

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Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, who have now separated

The state was seeking to have Mr Marotta declared the child's father so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided to the child’s mother, as well as future child support. 

Kansas does not recognise same-sex marriages and Ms Bauer could not legally adopt the child, despite continuing to care for her after they separated. When one of them became unwell and had to seek state support, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (KDCF) demanded they reveal the name of the sperm donor, which they eventually did.

The KDFC filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have Mr Marotta declared the father of the child born in 2009.

In her ruling, Mattivi wrote: “Kansas law is clear that a 'donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.'

“In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to conform to the statutory requirements of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties’ self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental rights and responsibilities."

Mr Marotta's attorney, Benoit Swinnen said he was "disappointed" but "not totally surprised" by the ruling.

"We stand by our story", he said. "There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it."

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