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Important issues to consider when using a known sperm donor

A recent court ruling in Kansas highlights the benefits of involving a licensed physician and attorney when using a sperm donor.

A US man William Marotta responded to an online ad placed by a lesbian couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner who were looking for a sperm donor. The couple used “at home insemination” with Marotta’s sperm in order to become pregnant with their daughter. Bauer and Schreiner recently separated, and Schreiner became unemployed and filed for state benefits. Under Kansas law the state is required to determine the father of the child when financial assistance is sought. Although the couple and Marotta reportedly signed a private agreement relieving Marotta of any financial and parental responsibility for the child, Judge Mary Mattivi ruled that Marotta is required by law to provide child support.

In Marotta’s case, given that they didn’t use a licensed physician or a legal contract, the state views Marotta as the legal father so he is required to pay child support. Given that a licensed physician wasn’t involved in the insemination process, the judge said that Marotta is “more than a sperm donor and thus responsible for the child.”

Attorneys at Flesicher and Ravreby suggest that all parties need to think carefully about entering into any third party reproductive agreement without getting the appropriate authorities involved. Although it can be more costly, involving an attorney and physician and following state law may be worthwhile as it may:

“be far more expensive and emotionally damaging to get caught doing things ‘wrong’ and then end up in a legal battle over the fate of your children…No private agreement can guarantee that you’ll be relieved of your support obligations.”

Given differences in state and provincial laws, potential donors and intended parents should research regulations around the use of donors, and parental rights and responsibilities, in their particular jurisdiction.

Read about the Kansas court case here.

Read Fleischer & Ravreby’s post on sperm donors, paternity, child support and the law here.

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