Kan. case highlights legal issues for sperm donors
But the Kansas Department for Children and Families, which started pursuing Marotta in October, argued in a court filing Wednesday that at least 10 other states require a doctor's involvement in artificial insemination for a sperm donor to be protected from having to pay child support.
"It's a commonsense law," said Washington state-based attorney Mark Demaray, a past president of an organization for attorneys who handle assisted reproduction legal issues. "It's very common for them to have to go through a doctor's office and get a sworn statement from the doctor that he or she performed this procedure."
Marotta is trying to get the case dismissed. A hearing originally scheduled for Tuesday in Shawnee County District Court has been delayed until April.
Bauer and Schreiner have told The Topeka Capital-Journal that they're backing Marotta in his fight. The Associated Press left a phone message Thursday at a number listed for Schreiner, and she didn't respond to a Facebook message. Listings for Bauer were incorrect or out of service.
A spokeswoman with the Department for Children and Families said earlier this week that the agency routinely tries to track down the biological father when a single mother seeks public benefits for a child, as Schreiner did in January 2012, and require him to pay child support.
The effort, the state says, is to potentially lessen the burden on taxpayers. Officials in Gov. Sam Brownback's administration declined further comment Thursday about Marotta's case.
It wasn't immediately clear Thursday whether other states have pursued sperm donors for child support. However, lawsuits have been filed in cases where mothers seek support from donors.
Last year, a state appeals court in California sided with a Texas man who was sued for child support by the mother of two children conceived from his sperm donation. In New Mexico, a state appeals court in 2008 ruled against a sperm donor who saw the children regularly and had agreed to pay some child support but didn't want the amount increased.
In 2002, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws suggested that states have laws specifying that "a donor is not a parent of a child conceived by means of assisted reproduction" and that no donor could be sued to support the resulting child.
Kansas' law, enacted in 1994, was based on an earlier model law from the same Chicago-based group, but legislators haven't revised it. The group's website says the newer language has been enacted in nine states, including Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas.
"It was updated as science progressed," said Eric Fish, legal counsel for the group. "It continues to progress more quickly than the law."
Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Mo. Follow John Hanna on Twitter at www.twitter.com/apjdhanna
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