Sperm donors and responsibility for child support

A lesbian couple wanted to give birth to a child. As a same-sex couple, their doctor would not help with artificial insemination. They resorted to soliciting a sperm donor on Craigslist. They found a donor, who somewhat naively agreed. He did sign a contract that stated he would not be responsible for child support.

The child was born, but within a year, the couple's relationship fell apart. The woman who had been breadwinner for the couple had medical problems and the birth mother was forced to apply for public assistance to help with child support.

Kansas would help, but they demanded the name of the father. The state noted they were obligated by law to obtain that information and then commenced a proceeding against the sperm donor for child support.

The law has an ostensibly noble purpose, in that it is designed to prevent men from disclaiming parental responsibility to avoid child support obligations. It also prevents women from being manipulated into surrendering their right to receive child support.

However, child support presents a hard economic fact for most states. Recent numbers suggests the states are owed $50 billion in child support obligations, so they a strong incentive to collect funds from all possible sources.

If the couple had been able to use a licensed doctor and clinic, the sperm donor would have been free from any child support obligation.

Had they been residents of Florida, he would have been protected by the statute that provides donors of sperm or eggs have no right or responsibilities towards the child. While the donor innocently believed he was simply helping a couple have a child, his situation points out the value of vetting these types of issues with a family law attorney before acting.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Sperm Donor Legal Issues Highlighted By Kansas Case," Heather Hollingsworth and John Hanna, January 4, 2013

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