There are many different situations that can arise where a couple cannot conceive a child. This may include infertility issues with one or both partners, or in cases where same sex couples wish to have a child.
In these cases, where there is not a male in the relationship, or there are fertility issues with the male partner, a sperm donor can be used to provide the necessary biological material. Depending on the specific type of fertility treatment used, the actual fertilization of the egg can be done in vitro or in vivo, or outside of the body or within the body.
Medical doctors oversee this process in most cases, but there are also options for the actual donation and insemination process to happen without a doctor involved. In both cases, but particularly with the last scenario, there may be a risk to the sperm donor in being sued for child support at a later point in time.
A Recent Case
In one of the first cases of this type in the United States, a sperm donor, William Marotta, answered an ad in the paper and made a sperm donation to a same sex female couple. The insemination was done by the women using a syringe. Mr. Marotta was paid for the sperm donation and, while he had some very limited contact with the child after the birth, he was not listed as the father and never indicated or intended to be involved in the financial support of the child.
After the couple separated, the Department of Children and Families in Kansas attempted to collect child support from Mr. Marotta, as the mother is disabled and on disability. District Judge Mary Mattivi ruled in favor of Mr. Marotta, indicating the two women should be financially responsible for the child as they are the legal parents.
The Department’s argument included the fact that the insemination was not completed by a doctor, and therefore the law does not apply. Currently, in Kansas, the law protects a medical sperm donor from being required to pay child support unless otherwise agreed upon by the donor and the parents.
About two-thirds of all states use this Uniform Parentage Act to protect sperm donors from these types of legal actions. In addition, with most medical sperm donor programs, the facility does not disclose the name of the donor to the recipient, which provides an additional layer of protection.
What to Consider
When considering becoming a sperm donor, be sure to research the facility and to talk to an attorney familiar with this specialized area of family law. Review the contract and know any possible financial or parental responsibilities you are assuming or giving up before signing any documents.
Finally, talk to an attorney before any private requests for sperm donations outside of fertility clinics and if medical doctors are not involved in the process. A simple verbal agreement is not sufficient to prevent potential attempts to collect child support, even if they may not be upheld by the court.