January 24, 2014

"A Kansas court ruled on Wednesday that a sperm donor must pay child support for his offspring..."

"... because he and the mother did not conduct their transaction through a state-approved channel."

61 comments:

David said...

And the state approved channel changes the fairness and appropriates of this because?

n.n said...

Seller beware. The unregulated distribution, or in this case redistribution, of sperm, may come back and tax your labor and garnish your wages.

I wonder if eggs are equally toxic, or would abortion be considered a viable settlement.

Broomhandle said...

Keep it in your pants and it will stay between your legs. I think these stories shock and outrage older men but, based on who I know, young men seem to be getting the message. And they're declining to play.

The Godfather said...

I think the rules were a lot clearer to all concerned in the days of the shotgun marriage.

But everything's up-to-date in Kansas City.

Gahrie said...

I wonder if eggs are equally toxic, or would abortion be considered a viable settlement.

Eggs cannot be harvested without a doctor's help. It is yet one more case where the law favors women over men.

Revenant said...

Given that the parents of the child didn't ask for child support and insisted that the sperm donor shouldn't be held liable for them, I have a hard time seeing this holding up on appeal.

Rusty said...

There's a "war on women" you say?

This is indeed odd.


Revenant said...
Given that the parents of the child didn't ask for child support and insisted that the sperm donor shouldn't be held liable for them, I have a hard time seeing this holding up on appeal.

Let's hope it doesn't wind up in family court.

Jack Wayne said...

The lefty paradise personified.

Ann Althouse said...

"Given that the parents of the child didn't ask for child support and insisted that the sperm donor shouldn't be held liable for them, I have a hard time seeing this holding up on appeal."

The child was signed up for some form of welfare, so the state had the interest in recovering the money from the biological father.

To cut off your obligations as a father, you have to follow a particular procedure, otherwise the ordinary rule applies. The procedure wasn't followed here. I don't see the big deal about this decision.

Ann Althouse said...

What's left-wing about this decision?

Seems to me that it's following the traditional rule that the biological father is the father and fathers are obligated to support their children.

Peter said...

The rights of the child (and/or of the taxpayer) apparently trump any contracts that may exist between the parents.

Unless the parents follow the state-approved procedure?

is this one more example proving that laws don't have to make any sense?

Jeffrey Levin said...

Question:

Would Marotta's contract give him a right of action to seek relief from Schreiner? If she has any property, i would assume he would attempt to attach to that property in order to settle his debt to the state

campy said...

What's left-wing about this decision?

Absolutely nothing. Righties privilege women over men ever more than lefties do.

EMD said...

To cut off your obligations as a father, you have to follow a particular procedure, otherwise the ordinary rule applies. The procedure wasn't followed here. I don't see the big deal about this decision.

Is there paperwork for cutting off your obligations as a mother?

campy said...

Is there paperwork for cutting off your obligations as a mother?

How can you cut off what doesn't exist?

Bob Boyd said...

As my old grandma used to say, "No good deed goes unpunished, Robert....especially if it involves ejaculating."

paul a'barge said...

um, ok.
Turkey baster?
Did she lay back and not enjoy it?
Just a whimper and a bit of sobbing after?

Sounds infinitely better than having the State involved.

acm said...

Is there paperwork for cutting off your obligations as a morher?

----

There's procedure for that---relinquish your child through a traditional adoption, or take him/her to a police station, firehouse, or hospital within a certain period after birth (and then decline to come forward when a notice about that child's potential adoption is posted).

Notably absent: The "leave baby with strangers from craigslist, after pinkie-swearing that this kid is, like, totally theirs now".

Matthew Sablan said...

It seems unfair, but really, how can you find the other way? If you do, what's stopping dozens of dead beat dads saying "I was just a sperm donor!"

Rules exist for a reason people.

madAsHell said...

So, because a doctor was not involved, and no one could account for the turkey baster, then it is assumed that there was intercourse, and he's the father.

Here's the fuckin' you get, for the fuckin' you NEVER got!

acm said...

The answer to this whole thing, of course, would be to let gays marry and let the spouse---male or female---of the biomom be the assumed legal second-parent, period. Then, no one would've pressured the biomom for info about the sperm donor, as they could've just gone after the lesbian who agreed to parent.

Of course, Lesbian #2 is broke, too, so they're all still wildly irresponsible.

Matthew Sablan said...

"So, because a doctor was not involved, and no one could account for the turkey baster, then it is assumed that there was intercourse, and he's the father."

-- Is he denying he's the father? I thought he was, he just thought that the piece of paper he signed was actually legally binding.

Gahrie said...

Would Marotta's contract give him a right of action to seek relief from Schreiner? If she has any property, i would assume he would attempt to attach to that property in order to settle his debt to the state

So you think the state should force the mother to give money to the father, so the state can take money from the father to give to the mother to support the child?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

To cut off your obligations as a father, you have to follow a particular procedure, otherwise the ordinary rule applies. The procedure wasn't followed here. I don't see the big deal about this decision.

No? Nobody involved in this case thought that the biological father had either rights or responsibilities wrt the child. I don't see why he ought to have. The child was conceived at the behest of the lesbian couple, and if they suddenly decide (a la Wendy Davis) that, hey, this just isn't a good time for us to be mothers right now, they don't get to hang the responsibility on the sperm donor.

As a couple people have pointed out up-thread, there would be absolutely no problem in most states with a mother depositing a newborn at the nearest fire station, no questions asked. Apparently, otherwise women would just stuff the kid in the nearest dumpster. I suppose it's a sort of back-handed tribute to men that there's not an equivalent "safe surrender" law for guys in this position.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Matthew Sablan,

It seems unfair, but really, how can you find the other way? If you do, what's stopping dozens of dead beat dads saying "I was just a sperm donor!"

The fact that there is a contract here, and everyone involved agrees as to what they signed on for?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The answer to this whole thing, of course, would be to let gays marry and let the spouse---male or female---of the biomom be the assumed legal second-parent, period. Then, no one would've pressured the biomom for info about the sperm donor, as they could've just gone after the lesbian who agreed to parent.

Yup. That's the obvious and just solution. The difficulty here is that the coffers were bare, and the lesbian parents were totally fine with the state supporting their kid when they couldn't. The state wasn't so keen, so it went after the only solvent party in the whole mess. Who should no more have been involved than any other sperm donor.

Fernandinande said...

is this one more example proving that laws don't have to make any sense?

Part of it is rent-seeking, part of it is "give women whatever they want", because if there were no doctor-arranged exceptions there wouldn't be any sperm donors.

Fritz said...

From what I read, it seemed like the judge found a reading of the law by which it can be correct, the way Roberts found Obamacare to be a tax to make it legal, but it seems arbitrary to me that it matters whose hand holds the turkey baster.

Michael K said...

Another reason for men to avoid lesbians.

There was a case some years ago in Los Angeles of a 35 year old woman, a social worker as recall, looking for the former medical student who donated sperm to a sperm bank run by a professor back in the 40s. She was angry that her "father" had not assumed responsibility for her.

I don't know if she ever caught up with the poor bastard. Vindictive ex-wives are nothing compared to a vindictive fertilized egg.

Virgil Hilts said...

They posted an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a man to donate his sperm. Craigslist?

campy said...

The state wasn't so keen, so it went after the only solvent party in the whole mess.

Don't kid yourself; the state would've gone after the guy even if he didn't have two nickles to rub together.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I am really tired of "cherchez l'homme." If the mother is unmarried, find the biological father. If the woman is married, find the husband, even if he is provably not the biological father. Unless, of course, the biological father has deeper pockets.

Under no circumstances, though, is the mother to bear primary financial responsibility for her child, except after having had many opportunities to decline it.

campy said...

Under no circumstances, though, is the mother to bear primary financial responsibility

Of course not. We have a womens' rights movement, not a womens' responsibilities movement.

Big Mike said...

William Marotta rose to the occasion.

Some of these writers must think they're cute.

CWJ said...

Regarding the contract.

The problem is that state law supercedes the contract. You cannot have a binding contract with provisions that are in conflict with current law.

To give an extreme example, I could not enter into a legally binding contract with my killer with provisions that protected him from being prosecuted for murder.

Revenant said...

What's left-wing about this decision? Seems to me that it's following the traditional rule that the biological father is the father and fathers are obligated to support their children.

Actually the traditional rule is that if you get knocked up the man's supposed to marry you, and if he won't then you're shit out of luck.

But as for what's left-wing about, the obvious answer is found in your own comment:

The child was signed up for some form of welfare, so the state had the interest in recovering the money from the biological father.

Simply put, this case had nothing to do with the interests of the child or the mother. This was about revenue generation for an entitlement program.

SteveR said...

I'm with Virgil Hilts, Craigslist?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

campy,

Of course not. We have a womens' rights movement, not a womens' responsibilities movement.

And that would even be tolerable if it weren't wrapped up so often in "the best interests of the child." The best interests of the child are nearly always an afterthought.

I mean, look at this case. Two women earnestly desired a baby, and as we haven't got parthenogenesis quite yet, they needed a man. They then discovered that babies are expensive, and, well, there was the man. The guy who was recklessly spewing his sperm everywhere, as men always do, right? Never mind that it was at the express request of the birth mother and her partner; never mind that they wanted a baby, they contracted with him. They're broke, so he is literally left holding the baby.

Had they decided at birth (or, in some states, up to 30 days afterward) that this "motherhood" business just wasn't for them, then of course they could've dumped the baby at the nearest "safe surrender" depot and had no further responsibility for it, financial or otherwise. The sperm donor hasn't got this option.

I think the days of lesbians getting free sperm donations from friends are officially over, folks. This isn't the first time a guy has been burned for doing this particular favor. It's likely the last.

Patrick said...

Michelle, I'm not sure that is a bad thing.

Thorley Winston said...

As a matter of public policy, I think that the State of Kansas got it right. As a general rule, people who make babies should be responsible for caring for them until they're of legal age.

Michael K said...

"I think the days of lesbians getting free sperm donations from friends are officially over, folks. This isn't the first time a guy has been burned for doing this particular favor. It's likely the last. "

I think the cases of lesbians getting AIDS because they used a gay guy as a sperm donor were hilarious. Schadenfruede is some of the best freud around.

Just kidding of course ;)

Jane the Actuary said...

This is easy. Without following the legal requirements, the dad has just as much ability (that is, none) to set aside responsibilities for the child he fathered as in the case of a one-night-stand where he has no "intent" to be a father, and the woman has no intent to involve him -- but the kid has rights to support from both legal parents.

This was much simpler when sperm donors were used by infertile couples, so that the husband was presumed, by law, to be the father. Only when we invented sperm donors for single women, and legally fatherless children (as opposed to children with unknown fathers) did we get into this mess.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jane the Actuary,

This is easy. Without following the legal requirements, the dad has just as much ability (that is, none) to set aside responsibilities for the child he fathered as in the case of a one-night-stand where he has no "intent" to be a father, and the woman has no intent to involve him -- but the kid has rights to support from both legal parents.

Except that the whole thing about one-night stands is that the mother probably doesn't know the father's first name, let alone his surname, and he likely doesn't have pockets worth fishing about in. Which is why most of the children born to women who pick men up in bars end up being paid for by their mothers' provably non-biological-father husbands. Or, of course, by the state, if the mother's not married.

Do you really think this is a good outcome? I do not.

RigelDog said...

Why isn't the non-birth mother on the hook instead of the sperm donor? This child has two parents. If the second "mom" is considered to be a full parent (which is in line with the current concept of gay marriage and parenthood), then will Kansas consider that all THREE parents are financially responsible for the child?

RigelDog said...

Why isn't the non-birth mother on the hook instead of the sperm donor? This child has two parents. If the second "mom" is considered to be a full parent (which is in line with the current concept of gay marriage and parenthood), then will Kansas consider that all THREE parents are financially responsible for the child?

Fen said...

"A decision between a woman and her doctor... and a state approved channel when it involves a man"

Smells like a double standard.

Kirk Parker said...

I'm not at all friendly toward sperm donors in any situation...

... but still "nothing outside the state" rings a very uncomfortable bell for me.

In other words, I see this as less of a problem with the correctly legal way to be a "sperm donor", and more of Yet Another Welfare State Issue.

Saint Croix said...

What's left-wing about this decision?

Seems to me that it's following the traditional rule that the biological father is the father and fathers are obligated to support their children.


Yes, biologically speaking, every child has a mother and every child has a father. This is why marriage has always been defined as a husband and a wife. You can't pronounce gay marriage as a norm and then proceed to fuck up the parent's obligations. Either gay marriage is a sham (and father is liable) or gay marriage is legitimate (and father is not). Our society needs to straighten out reproduction issues before we make radical revisions to marriage. This is liberalism at its worst. Sloppy, emotional, and unable to plan or think ahead. Embarrassing.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

Seems to me that it's following the traditional rule that the biological father is the father and fathers are obligated to support their children.

If that were actually the "traditional rule," we would do DNA tests whenever child support issues arose, and absolve of legal child support responsibilities any man who is provably not the biological parent of a given child.

We do not, in fact, do this. The biological child of a man engaged in adultery with a married woman is assumed by law to be the child of her husband. Therefore the biological father owes nothing, while the cuckold owes exactly what he would his own child.

Is this just?

n.n said...

This is liberalism at its worst. Sloppy, emotional, and unable to plan or think ahead.

Exactly. Their actions precede their intelligence, which suggests incompetence, or implies ulterior motives.

Jim said...

Don't take the law into your own hand.

Freeman Hunt said...

Trading in kids is a highly regulated business. Rightly so.

Owen said...

What Jim said at 1/24/14, 11:19 PM: "Don't take the law into your own hand."

Thread-winner.

Laura said...

Perhaps the child should be put up for adoption or in foster care.

There are two "mothers" who together can't understand the legal ramifications of a contract or provide financial stability for a child whom they "wanted," and a "father" who engages in virtual adultery for profit, and likewise does not have the wherewithal to understand his obligations?

Sheer mental incompetence. The child deserves better, and the citizens of Kansas deserve a refund of legal fees.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I agree with Ann completely here. We live in Kansas and at one point considered donor sperm as an option for building our family. I don't blame the couple for going the private route (see below), but since they now demand state support I don't fault the state for going after the biological father, which has been state law for quite awhile.

The "official" procedures required us to go through a full social-services home study, including background checks and credit checks. We then had to be approved by social service bureaucrats, who said things to my wife (at 44) "you're too old to be a mother" and to us as a couple "we would *never* approve a child for farmers because the lifestyle is too deprived, and your income is not reliable." We would also be subject to social-services in-home follow-up every three months for two years, and annually thereafter until the child was 18. At any point if we pissed off one of these officious, snivelling, self-serving bureaucrats we would be subject to having our child removed by CPS.

Remember, this was for *permission* to have a sperm-donor.

The sperm would cost nearly $3,000 plus doctors' fees *per attempt*. In the end we adopted (privately)a delightful newborn daughter (soon to be 3) and the monsters from social services were out of the loop completely.

The real issue here is that the couple now seeks state support for the child.

Gahrie said...

Never mind that it was at the express request of the birth mother and her partner; never mind that they wanted a baby, they contracted with him. They're broke, so he is literally left holding the baby.

Now that he is being forced to financially support the baby...can he sue for visitation or custody?

Imagine the cries of outrage if he did....and I bet he'd lose the court case.

Trashhauler said...

"Don't kid yourself; the state would've gone after the guy even if he didn't have two nickles to rub together."

Absolutely true. The National Deadbeat Dad register includes anyone named by the mother as being the likely father. It doesn't matter if the father was a twelve-year-old victim of statutory rape, he is still liable for any child support that the state provides. The rapist-mother is off the hook entirely, if the statute of limitations has expired.

Trashhauler said...

It does appear from the logic that, insofar as repaying state-provided child support, there is no such thing as a legitimate child of a gay or lesbian couple.

Which is probably why the LGBT community is staying on the down/low for this one.

jr565 said...

"The child was signed up for some form of welfare, so the state had the interest in recovering the money from the biological father."

So then, how are we saying that laws that allow women to drop their kids off at a hospital somehow valid?
If the child were signed up for some welfare, woudn't the state have an interest in recovering money from the biological mother (or father)?

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
What's left-wing about this decision?

Seems to me that it's following the traditional rule that the biological father is the father and fathers are obligated to support their children.

Only he's not the father. He provided sperm.
This famiy has two mommies. Why can't the mommies pay the bills?

jr565 said...

THorley wrote:
As a matter of public policy, I think that the State of Kansas got it right. As a general rule, people who make babies should be responsible for caring for them until they're of legal age.

So what does that do for adoption?