Kansas Thinks Sperm Donor Should Pay Child Support

The state of Kansas is trying to force a sperm donor to pay child support for a child conceived by a lesbian couple through artificial insemination in a case that calls into question the relevance of some parenting laws in the face of shifting definitions of family.

According to reports, 46-year-old William Marotta answered an online ad to donate sperm. In 2009, he signed an agreement giving up any parental rights to any child conceived and birthed to then-couple Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner. That agreement also absolved Marotta of any financial responsibility for any children born to the couple.

But when Bauer and Schreiner filed for state assistance this year after Bauer was diagnosed with a “significant illness” that prevents her from working, Kansas officials demanded they name the sperm donor so the state could collect child support for the now 3-year-old girl. When the couple objected, DCF told them if the sperm donor’s name was not provided, it would deny any health benefits for their children because they were withholding information. Schreiner complied, and this saga began to unfold.

The state contends the agreement entered into between Marotta and the couple is invalid because Kansas law requires a licensed physician to perform any artificial insemination, which allegedly did not happen in this case. “Speaking generally, all individuals who apply for taxpayer-funded benefits through DCF are asked to cooperate with child support enforcement efforts,” Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said in a statement. “If a sperm donor makes his contribution through a licensed physician and a child is conceived, the donor is held harmless under state statue. In cases where the parties do not go through a physician or a clinic, there remains the question of who actually is the father of a child or children.”

“DCF is required by statute to establish paternity and then pursue child support from the non-custodial parent,” she wrote.

While Kansas officials would like to suggest this is a simple case, the fact remains that is simply not true. It’s easy to see why sperm or egg donors should be held harmless from financial support for children conceived using their genetics. These are, after all, contractual arrangements where the donating parties very specifically do not want parenting roles and are simply providing a service. To suggest unending financial responsibility, or the potential for such, is a cost associated with donating sperm or eggs and those donors would quickly evaporate, which is why Kansas, and many other states have laws on the books that deny that kind of liability.

However, those laws do not always serve the entire population. LGBT couples who want to conceive and start a family of their own can be left at the mercy of practitioners who refuse to take them as clients. When that happens, those couples create those relationships on their own, which is precisely the case here. For the state of Kansas to insist financial liability attaches in this context simply because the couple went outside the boundaries of traditional practitioners (that may or may not have been interested in working with them) smacks of an ulterior motive.

Could this attempt to force Marotta to contribute child support based on his sperm donation to a lesbian couple be designed to discourage assisting LGBT couples create families of their own in the state? Why else would lawmakers undertake the expense of a lawsuit if not to send a message to others considering similar donations?

Why else would the state call into question a contract that mirrors legal liability for similar genetics donations if not to prove lawmakers prefer IVF conception in some, but not all circumstances? Seems to me those are the questions lawmakers should have to address, not whether a mechanic who serves with his wife as foster parent should be forced to help financially support Schreiner and Bauer’s child?

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Photo from Grace Hebert via flickr.


Gigi D.
Theresa D4 years ago

Shame. Could you image the guy reaction when he had been told to pay on a 3 year old.

Kathy Lentz
Kathlene Lentz5 years ago

Jennifer U., the "LADY" isn't the one suing. It's the STATE that is suing him for child support. The couple did not want to involve the sperm donor but were threatened with the denial of benefits if they didn't name the donor. This is an obvious attempt by the State of Kansas to discriminate against Gay and Lesbian couples who want to have children. It is totally ridiculous and I hope the court puts an end to this attempt to blackmail the sperm donor into paying child support.

Mm M.
MmAway M5 years ago

Jeepers, what next?!?!

Alicia Guevara
Alicia Guevara5 years ago

No doubt this attempt is designed to discourage assisting LGBT couples create families of their own in the state Kandas.

Chandos V.
Chandos V.5 years ago

out what she qualifies for (based on the number of dependents and her income.)

Here's another scenario. Bio-mom and Non-bio mom are legally domesticated partners who use a known donor, with an agreement to conceive a child. Due to lack of state laws, the non bio mom's employer refused to cover the bio mom (who is self employed) or the child under their insurance. Bio mom goes to the state, is truthful and states the child was conceived with a known donor and has two financially responsible parents, who are legal domestic partners. The state asks for the agreement. The bio mom presents it, with the donor's identifying information blacked out.

The state covers the child because they cannot deny coverage to a minor. However, they refuse to cover the bio mom because she is "uncooperative with the child support enforcement agency". Keep in mind, the only reason the bio mom or the child NEEDS coverage is because the non bio mom/legal partner's company is not required to cover domestic partners or non-biological children (and no, the state does not allow second-parent adoptions.)

Chandos V.
Chandos V.5 years ago

Annmari L.

I think the biological father of two of her children is a pretty damn good source, especially since everything I have found online is right in line with what he has told me. I haven't found any contradictory information regarding the case.

No one needs confirmation on an OPINION. As far as truth is concerned, again, I have no reason not to believe what I've been told. EVERYONE is entitled to form their OWN opinion regarding what is stated, be it "truth", fact or opinion.

In the state's eyes, they DO need the information in order to formulate what the child is entitled to, as far as state support is concerned. The problem is they are going after the wrong parent. Regardless of the situation, Angela Bauer was that child's intended parent and SHE should be the one to take responsibility for the child (both financial and legally.) Due to the fact that same sex marriage is not legal, the state will refuse to use her information as the child's parent, hence, they are going after the donor.

Do they NEED the donor's information? That's debatable. I would say no, use Angela's. The state says she has no legal rights to the child, therefore, they're going after the donor. So the state would say yes, they do need his info.

I will tell you EXACTLY what would happen if she had said it was a one night stand and the "father's" identity is unknown....they would provide support for the child without further incidence and also cover Jennifer once they figure

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Chandos V.: Do you have any confirmation on your blunt opinions or is it just second or third hand information you are passing around as truth?
I would really like to know and I guess the rest of the Care2 members that have posted here.

I wonder how the DCF can legally use extorsion to get information they don't really need? What if the couple had said they didn't know the name of the father; that it was a one-night stand with a stranger? What had happened then?

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

He gave up his rights, that means responsibly also.

Chandos V.
Chandos V.5 years ago

I was contacted by someone involved in this mess and I think there is way more to this story than meets the eye. As far as the donor is concerned, I would run away, as quickly as possible and the financial aspect is the last reason.

Angela was not too ill to work, she's an alcoholic.

Their foster children have been removed due to domestic violence.

From what I've heard, neither of them is fit to HAVE a puppy, much less a child.

Amanda M.
Amanda Ashton5 years ago

To be honest with you, the sperm donor signed his rights and financially responsibility in the beginning. If they started doing this this would make it harder for other gay/lesbian couples to have a family. Work like the rest of us. This is the responsibility that you signed up when wanting to have a family. Maybe friends and family can help out or by having a fundraiser for the couple. I think it would be wrong and waste of time for them to pursue the sperm donor.