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The Courts The Almighty Buck

Court Says Craigslist Sperm Donor Must Pay Child Support 644

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "David Stout reports at Time Magazine that what began with a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple calling for a sperm donor in rural Topeka, Kansas ended in court on Wednesday with a judge ordering the sperm donor to pay child support. The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have William Marotta declared the father of a child born to Jennifer Schreiner in 2009 so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided, as well as future child support. 'In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties' self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental right and responsibilities to the child,' wrote Judge Mattivi. Marotta opposed that action, saying he had contacted Schreiner and her partner at the time, Angela Bauer, in response to an ad they placed on Craigslist seeking a sperm donor and signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities. 'We stand by that contract,' says Defense attorney Swinnen adding that the Kansas statute doesn't specifically require the artificial insemination be carried out by a physician. 'The insinuation is offensive, and we are responding vigorously to that. We stand by our story. There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it.'"
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Court Says Craigslist Sperm Donor Must Pay Child Support

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  • Men must pay (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:39AM (#46054647)

    Serves him right. Helping lesbians and having a child has consequences - for life. This is a just sentence. Men must pay.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:42AM (#46054655)
    Selfish dykes ruining shit for the rest of the lesbians...

    First of all, if you need public assistance then maybe you shouldn't be having children. Second of all, if you cannot have children in a normal way then maybe you shouldn't be fucking over the people that help you have one in an abnormal way. Thirdly, fuck everyone involved for going to craigslist for this shit. What. The. Fuck.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:49AM (#46054669)

    I don't think you can blame the parents for "fucking over" the donor: it's the Kansas Department for Children and Families that has brought the case, and the recipients of the funds may not have a say in the matter.

    Unfortunately decades of trying to get deadbeats to pay up means that the laws are very strict, and you are correct that everyone involved was stupid for thinking they could just throw together their own contract without bothering to check their state's laws on the subject.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:51AM (#46054673) Homepage

    Selfish dykes ruining shit for the rest of the lesbians...

    From the summary: "The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have William Marotta declared the father of a child born to Jennifer Schreiner in 2009 so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:53AM (#46054691)

    .... and you are correct that everyone involved was stupid for thinking they could just throw together their own contract without bothering to check their state's laws on the subject.

    This is what's wrong with the legal system in my opinion. Intent means nothing these days. Crossing your T's and dotting your I's is all that matters...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:54AM (#46054697)

    Let's be a trifle more charitable here.
    It seems as though the state pursued this case off it's own bat. If you'd fallen on hard times and the state told you to name the father of your child or potentially not eat and have that child taken away from you, what would you do? The state is overreaching here, and it may well not be the mother's fault she's fallen on hard times. It can happen to anyone, through illness, divorce, sudden unemployment. The idea that all people who need state support are mere leeches is a poisonous stereotype perpetuated to justify the laissez-faire, let 'em starve approach taken by money-minded politicians and their aparatchiks.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @07:00AM (#46054723)

    Like I say, years of "Oh, I meant to do that" from people who had no intention of doing so has made it all but impossible to get any leeway. If you give people an inch and they take a mile, that inch gets taken away again.

  • by TitusC3v5 ( 608284 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @07:20AM (#46054787) Homepage
    While I broadly agree, it doesn't appear the lesbian couple actually asked for the guy to pay child support; that was all on the state's initiative.

    Citing the above, since it's very relevant. The issue here is it's a government agency abusing a loophole (well, not really a loophole since it's intended, I suppose) to get paid back for $6000 in state services. They've essentially gotten a two for one deal - not only do they get reimbursed for the matter, but they also managed to set a nice little precedent for future cases like this.

    In short, make sure the blame stays on the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
  • War on Women! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) <dfenstrateNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 24, 2014 @07:58AM (#46054889)
    This case will make it that much harder for lesbian couples to obtain a sperm donor. Like many laws and regulations, it'll ensure that things only occur when the proper people (in this case fertility clinics) get their cut.
  • by the grace of R'hllor ( 530051 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:08AM (#46054929)

    First of all, the extreme wealth inequality in your country means that 46 million people are living in poverty. People are using food stamps for fuck's sake, and it's not even actual war time. Using money as a reason to not live a life is hardly realistic.

    Second of all, as far as I can tell the parents aren't the ones fucking over the donor, it's the state of Kansas.

    Thirdly... I got nothing, you're right on that one.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:09AM (#46054937)

    no, it is a real problem whether they're paternal or maternal half-siblings. Maternal half siblings share a higher risk of autistic spectrum disorders than paternal ones, while the risk for full siblings (it has happened, and very recently in England) is orders of magnitude higher. The risk is vastly increased of various genetic disorders, miscarriages etc., in cases where full siblings are separated and forcibly adopted, in which cases their early life records are erased or substituted to make it harder for them to find their biological families.

    Lesson: in the slightest issue of doubt, get a DNA profile done. Failure to do so when there is a question of parentage can bring serious even tragic consequences.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:23AM (#46054993) Homepage Journal

    It seems like her relationship with her partner broke down. Sounds like they were fine when she got pregnant but subsequently things went wrong. It happens, and if the law was sensible it would hold her partner responsible for the child rather than the biological father. After all, they decided to have a child together as the two parents, on the basis of them both being able to care for and support it.

  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {enits.nahtan}> on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:28AM (#46055015) Homepage

    Yeah, but that would mean that Kansas would have to admit that lesbians are people with equal rights and responsibilities. Not likely.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:29AM (#46055019)

    Actually you can blame them. They didn't have to tell anyone his name. They could have said "we don't know"... they chose to name him. And in naming him, they screwed him.

    As to the government, they really don't amend their laws to take new circumstances into consideration. This whole sperm donor thing is not something the law understands at a deep level.

    Should the judge be holding this guy accountable? Obviously not. But at some level it might not be entirely his fault since that might just be how the law is written and it isn't his job to say which laws are and are not reasonable. Rather, it is his job to judge how specific circumstances interact with the law.

    In any case, let this be a lesson to men in general. Don't donate your sperm to two crazy girls over the internet.

  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:46AM (#46055097)

    Get real, mothers tell the state that they don't know who the possible father is every day. You have obviously never looked at how the process works. The mother could have avoided the entire situation by declining to name the man, and still gotten the benefits.

    She chose to name the man and is letting the state of Kansas play the bad guy for her own benefit. She used him to get what she was otherwise unwilling to do and has now burned the guy that naively helped out a lesbian couple without having a lawyer on board.

    Quit calling a spade a duck and offering an excuse for her abominable behavior.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:51AM (#46055127)

    So take it from me and every sad case out there. If you see a single mother, stay the hell away from her. She's a disease. I know that sounds completely awful and it is. But the system was built this way and single mothers take advantage of it far too often. Fathers are guilty until proven innocent and many are still punished afterward. Women are never held accountable for their actions and no one can expect otherwise. The only reasonable way to protect is to treat them as if they were a contagion. The situation is dangerous. Purely dangerous. And the greater the danger, the more extreme the measures one must take to protect one's self.

    Sorry ladies... sorry kids. Blame the system and stop using it. If you want to depend on a man to take care of you and your children? How about taking care of him in return and making a family? Also, how about selecting a good man instead of "an exciting one" and being a good person yourself. I know it sounds stupidly old fashioned and somehow out of date, but there is a reason those ancient ideals were formed in ages past and the reasons they were needed then are the same as the reaons they are needed today.

    I have found that this is the unspoken philosophy of every intelligent male I have ever encountered. However, speaking this opinion brands you as a misogynist in the eyes of most women and some unintelligent males.

  • by Brian ( 2887359 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:56AM (#46055161)
    sure, but why should the donor pay for it?
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:56AM (#46055167) Journal
    You're correct, but isn't it sad?

    This seems like the approximation of rule by law for the lowest common denominator. My suspicion is that it's just too much work to sort through things on a case-by-case basis.

    Alternative headline: No Good Seed Goes Unpunished.

  • by stranger_to_himself ( 1132241 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:03AM (#46055195) Journal

    Given the amounts involved (it averages $100 per month) it might be that they assumed it was some blanket program. Some of it might be the state reclaiming money from blanket programs for everyone under a certain income threshold, things like free shots. It's not obvious.

    Very true - also a lot of people here forget that circumstances can easily change. You could lose your job, become sick etc so that you need child support where you didn't previously. Claiming benefits does not automatically make you a greedy feckless scrounger.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:11AM (#46055255)

    There's a difference between donating some genetic material to a couple who can't conceive on their own, and being a father.

    This man, at the request of the couple he was donating the material to, signed away any rights/claims to being a father. This is completely and utterly wrongheaded on behalf of the state, and I hope the man is able to take it to appeals.

    And I say that as a lesbian who has been in a similar situation to the women in this case. (we ended up not having kids, but were looking at the possibility).

  • No good deed... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kenh ( 9056 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:39AM (#46055403) Homepage Journal

    ...ever goes unpunished.

    I wonder if this will help or hurt future same-sex couples find sperm donors, egg donors, and surrogate mothers - all of which could find themselves caught up in a similar web of unintended consequences...

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:40AM (#46055415)

    However, speaking this opinion brands you as a misogynist in the eyes of most women and some unintelligent males.

    It depends on how you say it. I do not think you or GP are misogynist for pointing out the injustice of the system. But try this turn of phrase on for size: "If a woman wanted to abuse the system, what is there to protect the rights of the man?"

    This is not making claims about how many women want to abuse the system, but putting the focus where it belongs: on whether the system is fair.

    And, if the reply is "that would never happen," or "that's so rate as to be inconsequential," then it's not you who is the sexist.

  • by tresstatus ( 260408 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:41AM (#46055419)

    Parental responsibilities are owed to a child and cannot be waived by a parent.

    Wrong. parental rights can be waived. This is how adoptions work. Both birth parents have to waive their rights to the child.

  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:56AM (#46055553) Journal
    Virgin Mary story would have lost them benefits from the state. This is a story of the Govt controlling who can have kids and who can't and one could even argue it's discrimination by the govt, because by saying "all your signed legal donor contracts are worthless" the govt is essentially saying "sorry lesbians if you want children you better pay $20,000+ for artificial insemination from a doctor" and requiring same sex couples to pay $20,000 or their child isn't really theirs is a great way to prevent same sex couples from having children at all. With the court ruling the father is still legally the father in this case means any same sex couple who had a child without artifical insemination could face a custody battle someday.
  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:57AM (#46055557)
    I would go another direction and say that the problem with the legal system is how arbitrarily it is applied. Critics of the ruling have pointed out that the law was not really intended for this usage and this is the first time it has been applied this way by a state service that does not exactly have the best reputation for tracking down deadbeats who actually are a parent. So it was an unusual usage of the law and an unusual amount of state effort put into it, all to go after someone who helped lesbians in a political climate where certain people are having additional weight put on them for fear they are being 'uppity'.

    Sadly, even crossing your Is and dotting your Ts is less important then when you have officials looking to score points by hurting you... .officials who have all their expenses paid while the person who it is being applied to pays out of their own pocket.
  • Re:War on Women! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:00AM (#46055575) Homepage Journal

    Yes, minus the "get their cut" conspiracy theory nonsense.

    When you do things in the real world with considerable consequences, make sure you are doing them properly. If this had been a rental agreement, or a purchase contract for a company, or whatever, the result would have been similar if the parties involved did things without the correct paperwork.

    Maybe it's a burden, but it's there to regulate our society. Law is very much like a computer. You can go the bureaucratic way and change your data using the correct API with all the filesystem or database overhead and the requirement to use a particular format or language. Or you can just flip a few bits in memory or on the hard drive and get the same result. Except that it might break data integrity, invalidate the sector because of a checksum violation or whatever else.

    Also don't forget that the interested party in this case was not some clinic or medical association, but the government, which has apparently paid quite a bit of money in child support and - thanks to all of us complaining all the time that the government is wasting money - was probably obliged by some deficit limit law to check if it can't get that money back from the father.

    Unintended consequences, anyone?

    But yes, it'll make it more difficult, because lots of people don't want to use the proper API and fill out the proper paperwork and don't want to pay a lawyer to tell them what the proper paperwork is. For a one-night-stand, that's understandeable. For a child, less so.

  • I doubt she could have got away with a lie. When she received maternity care she probably told the doctors how she got pregnant. It would be responsible to tell them in case there were any medical issues that arose (genetics etc.) Her friends probably knew and would have been required to lie to the state as well.

    She had no reason not to be honest about who the father was right up until they decided to make him pay, which she probably thought was impossible due to the contract. Maybe she was dumb assuming that, but there is no evidence of malice here.

  • by rgriff59 ( 526951 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:53AM (#46056843)

    I think the base issue is that Kansas doesn't consider the lesbian relationship as legitimate and binding. If this same situation had played out with a female mother and an male, but infertile, father, there would have been no question that both bore financial responsibility for the child regardless of the method of conception. Because the relationship is not recognized, mother mother and mother father are not jointly responsible, and a third party is brought into the support equation.

    I don't care about the morals, traditions and threats of divine retribution; the state is doing a disservice to all citizens by not recognizing the non-traditional "marriages" under common law. In this case they seek to recoup $6000 from a third party, and will no doubt pick up far more than $6000 in legal expenses as this nonsense winds through the courts. Make the non-traditionals bear the same social responsibility as the more conventional family units. I am less concerned about any moral implications of such relationships than I am about the lack of responsibility that is afforded to participants in the non-traditional relationship because the state fails to recognize them. The state's perverted thinking on this matter brings real costs to the people whose moral values they are allegedly protecting.

    Marry them, tax them, and let them bear the cost of their choices like the rest of us. Share the pain.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @01:08PM (#46057675) Journal
    Dear mods: This doesn't count as "funny" (quite the opposite), but rather, "insightful".

    US case law pretty much accepts that as a de facto standard - In the absence of staggeringly overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the guy gets screwed while the woman gets whatever she asks for.
  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:34PM (#46058843) Homepage

    If that was true, then no one would ever be a sperm donor.

    Welcome to Europe and Canada, where the courts have effectively made sure that guys won't engage in relationships at all, because of any type of potential fuck-over. I had a feeling that this would hit the US eventually, enjoy it. Because for many young guys, this will be the only way they'll ever get fucked.

  • Re:Men must pay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by arfonrg ( 81735 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:02PM (#46061741)

    So wait, why isn't the 'other mother' paying instead? What about equal rights [responsibilities] and all that? OH RIGHT, that's only when it doesn't cost anything.

  • Re:Men must pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @06:23PM (#46061985)

    So, her body, her right, her choice, is somehow his responsibility? If women want sole control over the reproductive process ("It's a woman's issue"), then they should have sole responsibility too. If she wants a man to help, then she has to get him to sign a contract/get married and only have children by him. Now, THAT is equitable. The current status quo is privilege for women at the expense of men.

    There's a chance you were trolling/joking, but despite that, you were modded insightful anyway. This shows how badly feminism has biased the society against men.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351