by Dr. Boyce Watkins
A man in Kansas helped a lesbian couple make a baby a few years ago, thinking that he was just the donor who didn’t have much responsibility beyond that.
Now, things have changed. He has a four year old daughter and a judge has ruled him the “presumptive father” of the child, meaning that he may have to pay child support.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi told William Marotta, a man in Topeka, Kansas that he is responsible for the child. The technicality which led to his connection to the baby is that the artificial insemination was not performed by a licensed physician.
The man decided to make the child for the couple after finding their ad in Craig’s list. He says that he signed a contract with the couple that waived all rights and responsibilities that come with parenthood. But the Kansas Department for Children and Families says that he owes thousands in child support.
The reason that the agency is going after Marotta is because the child’s mother, Jennifer Schreiner, has received $6,000 in public assistance for the child.
Marotta says that he is “almost ready to go to jail” over the incident, and he might get his wish. The state may also garnish his wages if he is required to pay support.
According to the judge:
“Kansas law is clear that a ‘donor of s*men provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.'”
“In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to conform to the statutory requirements of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties’ self-designation of (Marotta) as a sp-rm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental rights and responsibilities.”
Financial Juneteenth and Financial Lovemaking lessons from this story:
1) Anytime you share your body or bodily fluids with another person, you are at risk of a lifetime of financial commitment. Even as a donor, there is the risk that the laws could change or that the child could somehow find out who you are. Weigh this carefully against the short-term payoff of donating yourself to create another human life.
2) Not every legal contract is going to stand up in court. One rogue judge can change everything. So, be thoughtful about entering agreements like this one.
3) Things don’t always go as planned. The woman probably didn’t anticipate that she would be a single mom on public assistance, assuming that her lover would be with her forever. As you can see, that’s not how things turned out. So, although she flipped the script on him, the man must also blame himself for putting his financial well-being into the hands of another person.