In 2009, a Kansas man, William Marotta, answered a Craigslist ad posted by a lesbian couple seeking a sperm donor in order to help the couple conceive a child. The couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, decided that Schreiner would be birth-mother and nine months later, Schreiner gave birth to a daughter. The child’s birth certificate listed Schreiner as the mother and did not list a father. Kansas law does not allow same-sex partners to adopt the partner’s child so Bauer has not been able to establish a legally-recognized relationship with the child.
When Schreiner applied for state health insurance for the child, Kansas demanded to know the identity of the father. Kansas law, like New York, allows the state to seek child support on behalf of a custodial parent when that custodial parent is receiving certain state-sponsored financial benefits such as health insurance. Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families said “all individuals who apply for taxpayer-funded benefits through DCF are asked to cooperate with child support enforcement efforts” and that “DCF is required by statute to establish paternity and then pursue child support from the non-custodial parent.”
Schreiner apparently was hesitant to disclose Marotta’s identity but was required to do so in order to obtain the health insurance. Marotta has stated that he doesn’t resent Schreiner’s decision to disclose his identity but that he does “resent the fact that Jennifer was pressured into doing that in the first place.”
Interestingly though, Kansas law does provide that if a sperm donation and artificial insemination are done by licensed physician, the donor is held harmless and not responsible for any child support. In this case, the matter was not handled by a licensed physician and so it appears that Marotta will be liable for the child support.
As cases sperm donors being sued for child support increase, states will certainly attempt to address the question of financial liability through new laws.