Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kansas Precedent on Sperm Donor Case

BabiesAs I have previously discussed, William Marotta donated sperm to a lesbian couple so that they could have a baby of their own. He also signed a contract with the two to ensure that he would be relieved of providing financially for the child. When of one of partners, Jennifer Schreiner, had financial difficulties caring for the child, she applied for welfare. The State of Kansas refused, arguing that the biological father should care for the child. Marotta contested those claims arguing that he signed a contract stating that he would not have to care for the child. The state agency that deals with child support claimed that the contract was not valid because the sperm donation and insemination were not performed by a licensed physician, pursuant to state law. 

There was a particular case that was decided in Kansas in 2007 that might provide some insight to the case. In that case, the Supreme Court of Kansas denied a sperm donor parental rights because there was no contractual arrangement between the donor and the mother granting him those rights. Marotta's attorney, Ben Swinnen, argued that this case could provide a defense because it appears that the court's past ruling runs contrary to the assertions the Department for Children and Families. Without a contract granting rights to Marotta, his attorney has argued that Marotta did not have parental rights or the financial obligations that would stem from those rights.

See Kevin Murphy, Child Support Claim Rankles Sperm Donor To Lesbian Couple, Yahoo!News, Jan. 2, 2013.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett, Jr. (Partner, The Hartnett Law Firm) and Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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I believe in the earlier Kansas case the insemination was performed by a doctor. That's an important distinction given the statutory structure, which is taken from the older version of the Uniform Parentage Act.

Posted by: Julie Shapiro | Jan 10, 2013 12:18:02 PM

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