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Kansas judge hears arguments in case of sperm donor sued for child support

A Kansas district court heard arguments Friday in the case of a man who is being sued for thousands of dollars in child support by the state after donating his sperm to a same-sex couple he found through a Craigslist ad.

William Marotta, a mechanic, and his wife Kimberly are fighting the state’s contention that the man should be required to pay child support, arguing that a Kansas law requiring a licensed doctor to perform artificial insemination is antiquated. 

Marotta says he drew up a contract with the two female partners without a physician’s supervision. The agreement with the mother of the child and her partner said that Marotta would not assume parental obligations, the man said. The child is now almost four years old.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Koziacki Mattivi heard a little over an hour of arguments from the state and Marotta’s attorney in Topeka on Friday.

Both sides have asked the judge for a ruling without a full trial, and Mattivi is expected to hand down a ruling for “summary judgment” on the case within sixty days.

The case began last fall, when Kansas sued Marotta, who does not dispute that he is the child’s biological father. He says that a move by the child’s attorney to obtain DNA evidence is a waste of time.

That makes no difference, argued Timothy Keck, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Children and Families. The lawyer said that the couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, used a catheter and syringe to impregnate Schreiner at home in 2009 without a physician present.

“This is not a case about a sperm donor contract, it’s about child support,” Keck said on Friday. “[Marotta] cannot get out of his support obligations because he didn’t follow state law. The contract they drew up means nothing.”

Bauer and Schreiner have separated since the artificial insemination, and have struggled financially because of an injury that left Schreiner unable to work. Marotta has said that he has seen the girl twice in her lifetime – once soon after her birth, and another time by coincidence at the Kansas State Fair. But he has never identified himself as her father, he said.

“Mr. Marotta has never been involved in the child’s life,” the sperm donor’s attorney Benoit Swinnen said.

The attorney said on Friday that the contract his client says he drew up with the couple was central to the case, and said the state was persecuting Marotta to send a message about traditional family values. Swinnen cited paternity cases in other states, and pointed to a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling regarding the rights of same-sex parents.

“Seeking only a male as a father is discriminating on the basis of gender,” Swinnen said.

While the judge's ruling is expected before the end of the year, Marotta said after court on Friday that he expects the case to last at least 2 years, as Mattivi’s decision is likely to be appealed.

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