The state of Kansas is trying to make William Morotta, a sperm donor, pay child support even after signing a written agreement that he would not be considered the father of the child nor liable for child support.William Marotta, age 46, donated sperm to Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauerunder a written agreement that he would not be considered the father of the child nor liable for child support.
A daughter, now 3, was born to Schreiner.
"Jennifer and I went into it as this is our child," said Bauer in a recent interview. "William just happened to be the other half of her DNA."
But in October, the state of Kansas filed a petition seeking to have Marotta declared the father of the child and financially responsible for her, after the couple encountered money difficulties.
Marotta will ask the court in a hearing January 8 to dismiss the claim, which centers on a state law that the sperm must be donated through a licensed physician in order for the father to be free of any later financial obligations. Marotta gave a container of semen to the couple, who found him on the Craigslistwebsite, instead of donating through a doctor or clinic.
The case is seen as having repercussions for other sperm donors. Sperm banks routinely provide sperm to people who want to conceive a child on the understanding that the donors are not responsible for the children.
Kansas is seeking child support from Marotta, including about $6,000 in medical expenses related to the child's birth, according to its petition.
"No good deed goes unpunished," Marotta said.
Kansas officials are required under the law to determine the father of a child when someone seeks state assistance. The couple was compelled to provide that information, which led to investigation of the sperm donation.
Marotta should be declared the father and subject to financial claims because he donated the sperm directly to the women and not through a physician, as required by Kansas law, the state's petition states.
"The statute says if you provide sperm to a licensed physician for insemination of a woman other than your wife, then you are not the father," said family law specialist Linda Elrod.
Marotta said he's had virtually no contact with the child, but that he and Schreiner have remained cordial. He said she was pressured by the state to provide his name as the sperm donor.
Lawyers for Marotta argue that he had no parental rights because of his agreement with the couple and cannot be held financially responsible.
They cite a 2007 case in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled against a sperm donor seeking parental rights because he did not have any such agreement with the mother.
Marotta, a race car mechanic, responded to an ad on Craigslist from someone offering to pay $50 for sperm donations, but he made the donation for free. Marotta said he and his wife have no children of their own but have fostered a daughter.
Marotta said he was simply trying to help a couple wanting a child.