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Sperm donor could be hooked for child support despite contract

Matters of family law in Ohio are too important to be faced without the benefit of experienced legal counsel. In an age when the process of having a child no longer requires the natural biological steps to get pregnant, the legal ramifications of parentage and responsibility for child support can be particularly dicey. Sometimes a seemingly legal contract isn't enough.

A man in another state is discovering this currently. He is facing one state's efforts to get him to pay child support for a now 3-year-old girl, even though he had nothing more to do with her birth than providing the sperm. And his predicament is one that men in Ohio could face if they are not careful.

The details of the case are these. In 2009, the 46-year-old Topeka, Kansas, man responded to an online ad from a lesbian couple seeking a sperm donor. The man and the two women exchanged emails and met and then signed contract, the terms of which outlined his donation of sperm and his release of any financial or paternal obligation for any resulting child. The lesbian couple proceeded to perform an artificial insemination at home, which took, and they had a baby girl.

Late last year, though, the couple broke up and the custodial mother apparently found herself in such financial straits that she sought and received state assistance. Now, the state of Kansas is going after the sperm donor for some $6,000 in state assistance that the mother received, and future child support payments. The case is slated for action this month and participants say it's likely to go all the way to the state Supreme Court.

At the heart of the state's argument is its claim that the whole transaction involving the donation was not handled by going through a doctor. State law in Kansas requires that and Ohio courts have ruled similarly. So, one question the court faces is whether the duly signed contract between the donor and the lesbian couple should be honored, or the law enforced.

What this man faces is certainly not what he bargained for. It's not clear whether the parties to the matter consulted an attorney before they entered their agreement, but the issues of child support now being addressed likely would not have come up with proper due diligence.

Source: KEYC-TV, "State trying to make sperm donor pay child support," John Hanna, Associated Press, Jan. 2, 2013

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