The Perils of Sperm Donation in California

The Perils of Sperm Donation in California

What California Sperm Donors Should Know About Sperm Donation, Child Support and the Kansas Sperm Donation Case

Are you thinking about sperm donation in California? If you have been following the Kansas sperm donor case, there is an important legal development. If you are not familiar with the case, let’s turn briefly to the legal controversy surrounding a sperm donor in Kansas who is being sued by the state to pay child support. If you are an intended sperm donor, or if you are thinking about entering into a sperm donor arrangement, you are going to want to read about the issues in the Kansas case.

The Kansas Case

The Associated Press reported a Kansas man, William Marotta, answered a Craigslist ad for a sperm donor in 2009. A lesbian couple in Kansas had published the ad. The sperm donor met with the lesbian couple, Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, and all of the parties agreed, Mr. Marotta, would donate his sperm to the women and he signed a legal document relinquishing his parental rights.

Reportedly, Marotta turned down a $50 payment offered by the two women for the sperm donation. The problem in the arrangement arose when the lesbian couple used a syringe instead of a physician to accomplish insemination of the donated sperm. A Kansas statute permitting sperm donation requires a medical doctor to carry out the insemination procedure. When the lesbian couple used a syringe instead of a medical facility, they failed to follow the specific guidelines laid out in the statute that would relieve a sperm donor from having parental responsibility under Kansas state law.

The state subsequently became involved when Schreiner applied for Medicaid and gave the donor contract to the caseworker. The Kansas Department for Children and Family Services is now seeking to have the sperm donor named as father of the child so they can hold him liable for child support.

The Supreme Court Decision

Now that you understand a bit of the history concerning the child support sperm donor issue in Kansas, we now turn to a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, which also remarkably addressed non-traditional families in that state. The Kansas Supreme Court recently held, a non-biological lesbian mother has the same parental rights as a biological mother of two children.

The Huffington Post reported the first-of-a-kind Kansas Supreme Court ruling. In that case of first impression, the high court in Kansas held that a lesbian mother could not unilaterally limit her ex-partner’s visitations to their two children by refusing to honor the terms of a co-parenting agreement between them.

The Kansas Supreme Court case involved a lesbian couple, Kelly Goudschaal and Marcia Frazier, who separated after becoming parents to two children. Frazier filed an action to enforce a parenting agreement between the lesbian couple after Goudschaal refused visitations. A Johnson County judge upheld the parenting agreement between the two women, stating that joint custody was in the children’s best interest.

Goudschaal appealed the trial court decision, arguing the parenting agreement was not enforceable under state law because a court in Kansas did not have judicial authority over issues of child custody, child visitations and child support since there was no pending divorce or visitation request by a grandparent or stepparent. The Kansas Supreme court disagreed, “Not enforcing the parenting agreement would deny the children the opportunity to have two parents as children in a traditional marriage would have.”

The Kansas case is important because it is a case of first impression for Kansas. However, this case has allegedly opened the door to a woman in Topeka, Kansas who is now seeking to intervene in the Kansas sperm donor case. SFGate has reported that a woman is attempting to protect her own right to co-parent a child central to the issues in the child support case. What’s her authority? The recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, upholding a lesbian woman’s right to enforce a co-parenting agreement against her former partner.

It’s an interesting time in family law throughout the nation, as there appears to be a gradual recognition of non-traditional families in our legal system. As we await the United States Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8 and DOMA, there are courts all across this nation that are struggling to make law when medical technology has made so many remarkable strides when it comes to building families and helping those who are struggling with infertility. California does have a sperm donor statute, so cases like the child support case involving a sperm donor currently playing out in Kansas courts will be interesting to watch.

In another late breaking move, the Capital-Journal reports that the court-appointed lawyer for the minor child is asking for a child custody evaluation of the 3-year old child that is at the heart of this case. However, in spite of all of the legal happenings in this case, whether ignorance or mistake, it’s clear the failure to adhere to the legal requirements of the Kansas sperm donation statute may result in creating sperm donor liability for the payment of child support even though this was not the original intention of the parties. An intended sperm donor should never operate in a vacuum when it comes to legal arrangements in family formation law. The intended donor and the intended parents should always obtain guidance from a family law attorney with specific knowledge in family formation law, and who can advise and provide guidance on issues such as sperm donation and paternity law in California. In addition, no party to a sperm donation arrangement should ever proceed without fully understanding the nature of all of the rights and responsibilities involved under California law. Finally, you should take the time to get the help you need from a Los Angeles family law attorney who can help you negotiate the terms of a sperm donation agreement in advance of any sperm donation arrangement in California.

If you need help building a non-traditional family, or if you questions or concerns about sperm donation or California’s sperm donation statute, please call to speak to a Los Angeles family law attorney from Castellanos & Associates, APLC at (323) 655-2105. We look forward to helping you!