Sperm Donor Required To Pay Child Support?

Filed in National by on January 3, 2013

Well now, this is interesting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas is trying to force a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple to pay child support, arguing that the agreement he and the women signed releasing him from all parental duties was invalid because they didn’t go through a doctor. Under Kansas law, a doctor’s involvement shields a man from being held responsible for a child conceived through artificial insemination.

Okay, so if you go through a doctor (and pay a big fee) then you aren’t responsible, but if you skip the doctor (and the big fee), sign an agreement, with all involved parties, that relinquishes your parental rights, you are still responsible.  Wonder which group helped write this law?


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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (19)

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  1. socialistic ben says:

    This is dumb. Child support enforcement needs to be reserved for deadbeats who get a woman pregnant then refuse to take responsibility.
    Obviously the intention of making a…. erm… withdrawal…. was for this couple to get pregnant. It wasnt some one knight stand where the dude lied about wearing a condom. If you donate to a sperm bank, your job is done. With or without a doctor.

    on to your question, it’s Kansas and it’s sexist. We know who wrote it. I’m kind of surprised they don’t also make you consult a pastor.

  2. V says:

    I’m ok with this.

    One: It doesn’t say anywhere that they consulted a lawyer or state law when writing their agreement. Certain formalities are required when you buy a house, write a will, and adopt. The state’s allowed to put formalities on this situation. Otherwise you could have scribbling on a napkin be a legal release of parental rights. What about those situations where the sperm donor/parent changes their mind? These formalities also protect the child’s parents.

    Two: I assume this is more a way to regulate the saftey of sperm donation. What if this guy was loaded with STDs? I mean they put an ad on craigslist. There was also that doctor who was supplying his own sperm to patients without telling them in the 90s.

    Three: If we let this sort of informal agreement stand people who concieved the “old fashioned way” could then argue later that it was just an informal sperm donation to get out of child support (which I think is why they’re going after this guy, even though he’s legit).

    I think the rule here produced an unfortunate situation in this case, but I understand some of the reasons for the rule.

  3. Tom McKenney says:

    I’m guessing this is a subtle form of homophobia.

  4. cassandra_m says:

    This is a not-so-subtle form of infantalizing a group of adults who made a rational decision. They did have a written agreement — and rather than find something wrong with the contract these adults drew up and signed (a thing you’d think would be pretty easy for the State to do if they thought that this was improperly done), they decided that this group of people did not go through the right gatekeeper. Stupid, but then again, it *is* Kansas.

  5. V says:

    You need two witnesses when you write a will or it’s invalid, I see the same sort of formality here. It’s not infantilization, it’s a safeguard. What if he hadn’t given them sperm? Nobody batted an eye when they stopped that “plastic surgeon” who was injecting cement in to people’s asses when they were too poor to go to a real doctor.

    also not just gay people use sperm donors, if anything it’s punishing women. But still I don’t know why they couldn’t just go to a doctor and do it the way the law says they’re supposed to.

    If anything this poor guy is a casualty of a law meant to go after deadbeat dads. Either you’re on the birth certificate and liable for child support or you go through the legal channels available in your state.

  6. V says:

    Also the mothers of the child can’t waive that kid’s right to support. It’s the kid’s right, so even under that circumstance the agreement is crap. People try to do that in divorces sometimes and the court won’t allow it. If they’d 1. gone to a sperm bank (which has doctors) or 2. taken his sample to a doctor, they’d get around this. Just because you don’t know the law doesn’t mean you get around it.

  7. cassandra_m says:

    I don’t know how you can tell that the agreement these three people made *was* informal. Certainly there is nothing in the accompanying article that indicates that and if it was that informal, *this* is what the state would be using to invalidate the contract. Not this silly doctor business.

    The validation of a will (certainly the number of witnesses) is different from state to state. This guy wasn’t on the birth certificate by agreement. Why the presence of a doctor should make this agreement that this donor isn’t an official parent any more valid is beyond me.

  8. socialistic ben says:

    I think the danger here is, people who used a sperm donor can now try and track that guy (we can agree in this case that using “guy” is appropriate right? 🙂 ) and demand child support. Depositing into a cup, then leaving is really not the same as walking out on your girlfriend or wife. Also, the entire point of going to a fertility clinic is to get pregnant. A rational adult, or a ration adult couple shouldn’t do that unless they are financially able to care for the baby…. not expect mysterman to show up.
    The real problem here is my argument WINNING and it being hijacked by the LOLman who, like V said, will say “oh… that girl last month from the bar? i was just making a donation”
    Too bad humans arent capable of complex reasoning.

  9. samuel J. Vance says:

    The over reach of the State here is beyond the pale . There is no dispute here that there was a Sperm for baby agreement . Whether done through a hi tech doctor or a low tech turkey baster they had a mutual agreement .

  10. V says:

    Contracts that don’t abide by all requirements by law are considered “informal” no matter how fancy you write it. There are REAMS of law books written on all the grey areas of what’s ok and what’s not ok for something to stick. Not all of it is fair. It seems that Kansas requires a doctor’s participation in sperm donation for it to be a formal revocation of parental rights. Notary participation is required for certain other kinds of documents to be legal. You can’t just adopt a kid without going through the system, you shouldn’t be able to wash your hands of one either without some sort of formality. This guy is an unfortunate casualty of a law not meant to target him.

    And Ben, I would assume the donors going to a legally operating sperm bank as opposed to answering a craiglist ad would suffice for legal purposes as “going through a doctor” so the guy wouldn’t have to worry.

  11. pandora says:

    I would like to know more about the written agreement and why the state isn’t going after that.

    Seems like maybe the new way to handle this without a doctor is with no written agreement. They can call each other Mr. X and Ms. O. Just a secret deposit left by the back door.

  12. Dave says:

    This is similar to existing family law (the term “family law” is really an oxymoron)in some states where former spouses are held responsibile for child support, even when they were proven not to be the father but were lied to and told they were the father.

    Courts have ruled that once you have accepted the responsibility (even if you were defrauded into doing it) you are still responsible. Naturally, this is under the rubric “best interes’ts of the child”, which interestingly is often not in the child’s best interests.

  13. Steve Newton says:

    I guess I find interesting V’s assumption–all legal arguments and pseudo-arguments aside–that two women require the government’s permission to reach an agreement with a sperm donor, because they need to be protected … from what?

    According to the story, Kansas became involved not to protect the child, but to recover $6,000 in welfare paid to the mother.

    More to the point, if there were civil unions or marriage equality in Kansas, this wouldn’t be an issue because the partner (who has since broken up with the mother) would be (and should be) the legally responsible parent for child support purposes.

    The situation is not “ambiguous” as Kansas states–because his physical relationship to the child and the couple would be exactly the same if he had gone to a doctor’s office and paid the (often) excessive fee.

  14. Another Mike says:

    The state didn’t give a shit about the legality of the agreement until the two women broke up and the custodial mom applied for state benefits. This isn’t some kind of medical safeguard. This is the state looking to recoup its payments to the woman.

    It’s interesting to note that in Kansas, since same-sex marriage is not legal, the state cannot collect reimbursement from an ex-partner.

  15. V says:

    The abc version of the story states an opposite case Kansas recently decided where a sperm donor who went through a doctor changed his mind and tried to claim paternity rights. He was denied. That’s the sort of situation I was envisioning, Steve. Why can’t a law have more than one justification?

    Also the state has an interest in not paying benefits if a parent could do so. I had a friend who’s job used to be going to hospitals here in DE and encouraging teen moms to put the dad on the cert so if they ever wanted to claim support in the future it would be easier for them. Without that a lot of those women ended up on state assistance until they could compel DNA. Same idea. I totally agree with your civil union/marriage argument though. She should be the one paying support. Maybe this case can help further that argument.

  16. V says:

    Also you couldn’t PAY me to put a secret deposit by the back door from Mr. X from craiglist into my body, but mabye that’s just me.

  17. Dana Garrett says:

    Wow, I don’t know what to think about this situation. While I do think that there should be some legal standards for the contracts people enter into, I don’t think the state should nullify private contracts that were clearly understood by the parties and were non–coercive. Yet, with good reason, the state usually rules that the best interests of the child are determining. But why doesn’t the state assume the mother’s ex–partner assumed parental responsibility for the child and the best interests of the child could be served by requiring her to support the child? And absent that why, under these particular circumstances, doesn’t it assumes that the best interests of the child can be served through welfare?

  18. Joanne Christian says:

    Back up a bit–if a doctor is part of the contract in Kansas, maybe this couple was excluded from this deal because of the relationship status. Wasn’t too long ago same sex couples couldn’t adopt, so “parental rights” would have fallen solely on the single mom–and that’s if they were permitted to do that in Kansas.

    Fertility and parental rights laws is a constant, evolving domain as the latest and greatest is introduced, and families become more blurred on definition.

    I remember a case a while back of a woman who tried to collect Social Security for her child as a “survivor”, under her deceased husband’s name of which they had his sperm banked for her later use after his demise. I get it if child is born post-mortem within a normal gestational period–but several years later???!!!! Whew…I was glad the courts saw it my way, cuz this can get real expensive.

  19. Steve Newton says:


    I tend to look at laws like this “with more than one justification” as I look at combination tools–one item that does two or more jobs poorly.

    Here’s my problem with the law:

    1) It is plainly not illegal in KS to have a private agreement; even the state has not claimed (that I have seen, at least) that what these three people did was in any way illegal.

    2) But the law says that people who execute this kind of agreement via a fertility clinic (which entails paying all the fees therein) will receive a specific extra benefit (the ability to terminate parental rights) that is not available to people having the private agreement. Note that this additional benefit is not specifically medical (why should a doctor’s office have any bearing on my ability or inability to terminate parental rights? That would seem to be a territory of the Family Court system if anybody, not a fertility clinic). Moreover, as it stands this law places a potentially undue financial burden on couples going this route by forcing them to employ a much higher-priced procedure when there clearly are functional lower cost-alternatives.

    3) Taking up Dana’s observation, I agree with much of what I think he is saying. If there is to be a formal process for terminating parental rights, it should be spelled out and signed off on by an attorney (as an officer of the court) as is done in private adoptions around the country, not by an endocrinologist running a fertility clinic.

    4) I am glad you recognize my point about same-sex couples. It seems to me that morally the other woman (who was a signatory to the contract) is the responsible other parent, not the donor.

    5) The state is making two (I think) mutually contradictory arguments; That it is acting in its own self-interest (to avoid spending the welfare money by “creating” a deadbeat dad, and at the same time that it is somehow acting in the best interests of the child (exactly how, I am still–seriously–struggling to imagine).