Late last month a Kansas court made a shocking decision when it was decided that sperm donor, who had answered an ad placed on Craigslist, must pay child support to the lesbian couple who employed his "services" for artificial insemination. The case began in October, 2012, when the Kansas Department for Children and Families sought to have the donor declared the father of the child so he could be held responsible for the nearly $6,000 in public assistance provided to the child, as well as future child support. The donor argued that he never intended to be the father and had signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities. Unfortunately for the sperm donor, the Court cited the parties' failure to utilize a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process (a statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage act) to arrive at the conclusion that the donor wasn't really a donor at all, but a father.
Typically, Courts have upheld sperm donors' waiver of their parental rights and responsibilities under the reasoning that the donor never intended to be the parent of a child. The Kansas' Court's decision to hold the sperm donor in this case liable for child support is the first of its kind, based largely on the statutory language in the Kansas Parentage Act. While the donor's lawyers vigorously argued that the Kansas law does not specifically require artificial insemination to be carried out by a physician, the Court found otherwise.
The Kansas Court outright rejected the parties' "contract" to waive the donor's parental rights and responsibilities on the reasoning that the right for support belongs to the child, not the parents. Accordingly, the state argued that the sperm donor's contract overlooked the well-established law in the state that a person cannot "contract away" his rights or obligations to support his child. But, while the Kansas' Court's ruling is clear that the donor is responsible for paying child support, another conclusion likely follows from the Court's unorthodox ruling. With responsibilities, come rights - custody rights.
What effect does the Kansas Court's decision have on the status of sperm donors across the U.S.? Is it now possible that artificial insemination from a sperm donor can lead to a child support obligation? Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post to find out the answer to whether sperm donors in Pennsylvania can be held responsible for child support.
If you're considering using assisted reproductive technology to grow your family, contact our office today to learn the specifics of Pennsylvania law when it comes to gestational surrogacy, IVF, sperm donation and adoption.