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Craigslist Sperm Donor Owes Child Support

(CN) - A man who answered a Craigslist ad and donated sperm to a lesbian couple without oversight from a physician owes them child support, a judge in Kansas ruled.

In this case the man and the couple, who are named in the court record only by their initials, had executed a non-paternity agreement on March 30, 2009, but a licensed physician did not perform the artificial insemination.

The Topeka-Capital Journal identified the defendant as William Marotta, of Topeka.

Judge Mary Mattivi with the Shawnee County District Court explained in her ruling Wednesday that Marotta had answered an advertisement that the couple placed on Craigslist.

He then brought them his semen via specimen cup on three consecutive nights at their home in April.

One of the women applied to Kansas for welfare benefits in May, and the baby was born in December.

By next December the couple had separated, however, and the mother again applied for benefits from the state for another two years.

In September 2012, two months after submission of the second application, the Kansas Department of Children and Families cut off the mother's services because she had failed to provide the sperm donor contract.

When it finally read the contract and learned that the donor had not been anonymous, as the mother had initially claimed, the department petitioned to have Marotta adjudicated as the father. It also sought an order of child support and judgments for the child's expenses, education and medical care, as well as reimbursement for the cost of the legal action.

During court proceedings, the mother urged the court to not name Marotta as the father, claiming that "introducing a virtual stranger into the family unit would violate the right to family integrity," Judge Mattivi summarized.

The judge nevertheless sided with the state and ruled that Marotta is the child's presumptive father.

"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,'" the 13-page opinion states. "[T]he parties' self-designation of [Marotta] as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve [him] of parental rights and responsibilities."

Mattivi said she could not "look the other way simply because the parties intended a different result" than what is allowed under state law.

"A parent may not terminate parental rights by contract, however, even when the parties have consented," she wrote. "Termination of parental rights is controlled by statute, and in Kansas it may be accomplished only in one of the three following ways: (1) through relinquishment and adoptions; (2) through adjudication as a child in need of care; or (3) through a finding of parental unfitness by the court."

Marotta also failed to show that the law regarding a physician requirement is "merely instructive," rather than directive, "as to the measures necessary to preserve parental rights should a donor choose to do so."

This interpretation does not align with the plain language of the law, however, "because it requires the court to give meaning where meaning was not intended and to add works were none appear," according to the ruling.

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