In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a Kansas sperm donor has been ordered to pay child support to a lesbian couple. The donor, William Moratta, and the couple, failed to follow a 1994 Kansas law that requires a licensed physician to be used during the process of sperm donation and artificial insemination. Moratta argued that when he responded to the online Craiglist ad, he waived his parental rights and didn't intend to be a dad. But an outdated piece of Kansas law means, in the words of the great TV host Maury, he is the father.
Using a licensed physician when donating sperm is a requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act, the judge ruled, and allows the donor to be considered a non-parent. Because the donation wasn't made to a licensed physician, Moratta is considered the birth father to the child, even though the Kansas law does not specifically state that the artificial insemination be carried out by a physician.
The case, filed by the Kansas Department for Children and Families in 2012, sought to have Moratta pay $6,000 in public assistance provided by the state to the mother, in addition to future payments of child support. The department argues that the right for support belongs to the child and not the parents.
Kansas officials say there is a legal obligation to find the biological father when a single woman seeks benefits for the child, and to make him pay child support to lessen the amount the taxpayer must cough up. When Jennifer Schreiner, the child's mother, sought benefits last year, she was single and no longer with her then-partner Angela Bauer.
"The parties' self-designation of [Marotta] as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve [Marotta] of parent right and responsibilities to the child," Shawnee County District Court Judge Marty Mattivi wrote.
Kansas is one state that has not updated its parenting law to reflect modern ideas of what it means to be a family. According to the American Fertility Association, nearly half of states use some version of the 1973 Uniform Parentage Act, which states that a donor who gives semen to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination for someone other than his wife is not considered the child's legal father. Only some states use the updated version of this law, revised in 2000, which eliminates the need to use a licensed physician to be considered a non-parent.
In 2002, the National Conference on Uniform State Laws proposed changing to statute to explicitly state that a sperm donor cannot be sued for child support. While nine states, including Alabama, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, adopted the wording, Kansas did not take on the suggestion.
If Vince Vaughn's character in the upcoming Delivery Man was living in Kansas, we're guessing he'd have to pay an awful lot of child support. Always read the fine print.