William Marotta, of Topeka, Kansas, responded to an online advert posted by a lesbian couple seeking donor sperm resulting in a child being born in 2009. Despite Mr Marotta claiming to have waived his parental rights a Kansas Court has ruled yesterday that he is the legal father and therefore is liable to pay child support.
Rejecting Mr Marotta’s legal submissions, Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi (pictured above), ruled that as the parties did not involve a licensed physician in the artificial insemination process Mr Marotta did not qualify as a sperm donor.
The state was seeking to have Mr Marotta declared the child’s legal father, and thus liable for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided to the child’s mother, as well as ongoing future child support.
The lesbian couple, Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer have now separated. However, the state of Kansas does not recognise same-sex marriages and Ms Bauer could not legally adopt the child, despite being the primary carer post separation. When one of them became unwell and sought state support, the Kansas Department for Children and Families demanded they reveal the name of the sperm donor.
In her ruling, Judge Mattivi observed that, “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.”
For more legal analysis of this case please click this link. to an article on the American Fertility Association’s website written by attorneys Andrew Vorzimer and Corlandos Scott of VorzimerMasserman.
In the UK last year, the English High Court had to determine a similar issue in the case of M v F and H  EWHC 1901 (Fam) where the the mother issued an application for a declaration that the defendant Father was the legal parent to enable her to issue a claim for financial support. The Mother and Father disputed how the child was conceived. The Mother claimed it was as a result of sexual intercourse, so that the Father was the legal parent. The Father claimed it was as a result of artificial insemination, so that parentage depended on certain statutory provisions. The Court found that the Mother was a credible witness and that the child has been conceived by sexual intercourse, thus making the Father liable for financial support.
Both cases illustrate the importance of individuals entering into such arrangements seeking appropriate legal advice well in advance of conception.