Donate sperm, get ... a child support order? That's what happened to one Kansas man after a judge ruled that in his case, he was more than just a "sperm donor" in the eyes of the law.
Judge Mary Mattivi ruled Wednesday that William Marotta, who donated sperm to a lesbian couple, is their child's legal father. Judge Mattivi determined that a lack of formal medical arrangements forced the law to recognize Marotta as the father, who should be required to pay child support, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Does this change the game for men hoping to make a quick buck by donating sperm?
No Doctor Involved? No Legal Protection, Judge Rules
William Marotta responded to an ad that Jennifer Schreiner and her lesbian partner placed on Craigslist in search of a sperm donor. According to The Associated Press, Marotta signed a contract with the couple waiving his parental rights, and the baby was born to Schreiner in 2009.
Three years later, the Kansas Department for Children came after Marotta for a share of public assistance -- $6,000 worth.
Sperm donation contracts are actually a very good idea, as they can prevent custody battles between the donors and the parents. The problem is that these kinds of contracts may not be enforceable if they conflict with state law.
Judge Mattivi ruled that Kansas law required sperm donors be let off the "daddy" hook only if a licensed physician artificially inseminates the potential mommy.
Because Schreiner's insemination procedure was not performed by a licensed physician, Marotta is not eligible for any of the protections normally given to sperm donors in Kansas, the judge explained.
Legal Tips for Other Donors
To avoid Marotta's fate, here are some tips to keep donors legally protected:
- Sign a contract. Marotta was on the right track with this one. Just like surrogate mom's, donors need contracts which specify their involvement and obligations. Just make sure it complies with state laws.
- Use a sperm bank. Having a sperm bank officially collect a donation will eliminate most questions about the nature of the donor-child relationship. Yes it may be costly and a hassle for the recipient of the sperm, but a DIY solution could leave the donor SOL.
- Contact an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through the minefield of possible paternity suits.
And above all, be cautious; as seen in William Marotta's case, donating your sperm can potentially lead to support obligations that you didn't intend to bear.
- U.S. Sperm Donor Told to Pay Child Support (TIME)
- Sperm Donor Sues Clinic for Letting Ex-Girlfriend Use His Sperm (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Sperm Donor Law Needed? Why 150 Siblings Could Be Bad (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Sperm Donor Child Support: Is He Legally Liable? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)