Judge Rules Sperm Donor Responsible for Child Support

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
William Marotta (photo: Jeff Davis, AP)

A Kansas man who helped a lesbian get pregnant with his donated sperm must now pay child support, according to a state court.


The saga of William Marotta of Topeka began in 2009 after he responded to a Craigslist advertisement placed by a lesbian couple, Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, seeking sperm to conceive a child.


Marotta provided his sperm and signed an agreement with the couple stating he would have no relationship with the child once it was born.


But the couple eventually split up, leaving the Schreiner to seek welfare benefits from the state. She then lied to the Kansas Department of Children and Families about not knowing the father’s identity.


The department, however, found out about Marotta, and petitioned the courts to have him adjudicated as the father so the state could collect child support payments. Throughout the proceedings, Schreiner and Bauer, who continued to share in the upbringing of the child, fought against Marotta being named as the father, claiming that “introducing a virtual stranger into the family unit would violate the right to family integrity," according to Pawnee Country Judge Mary Mattivi’s case summary.


Marotta fought the state, insisting he was only a sperm donor, per the contract he signed. But under Kansas law, a man is legally a sperm donor only if a doctor performs the insemination. In the case of Schreiner and Bauer, no physician was involved during insemination.


This led to Judge Mattivi ruling (pdf) that Marotta was the “presumptive father” and not a sperm donor, which puts him on the hook to financially support a child he’s never known. That child is now four years old.


The ruling directs Marotta to pay all the child’s expenses, including her education and medical care, as well as reimbursement of legal costs.


Marotta said he it’s possible he would consider going to jail rather than pay court-ordered child support. His attorney, Benoit Swinnen, says they intend to appeal the decision.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Marotta Plans to Appeal Court's Sperm Donor Decision (by Steve Fry, Topeka Capital Journal)

Craigslist Sperm Donor Owes Child Support (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)

State of Kansas v. W.M. (Shawnee County District Court, Kansas) (pdf)

Kansas Snubs Lesbian Co-Parent in Craigslist Sperm Donor Case, Attorneys Say (by Jeff Black, NBC News)

Family Sues Sperm Bank for Bad Sperm (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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