Anyone who is thinking of having artificial insemination using a sperm donor – or of acting as a sperm donor himself – should talk with a family law attorney to fully understand the possible legal ramifications of the decision.
That message is underlined by a recent ruling from a court in Kansas.
The case involved a couple who found a sperm donor through an ad they placed on Craigslist. The donor – who never intended to play the role of father – signed a contract with the couple stating that he would assume no financial or any other parental responsibility for the child.
The couple performed the insemination procedure at home without the involvement of a doctor. Several years after the child was born, the couple separated. The mother later became sick and couldn’t work, and ended up receiving financial assistance from the state.
The state – seeking to recoup the assistance – went after the sperm donor for child support.
Of course, the donor argued in court that under the contract he and the couple had signed, he had no financial obligations to the child.
But the court pointed to a state law that requires all artificial insemination procedures to be performed by a physician. Because the couple had violated the law when they performed the procedure by themselves, the contract they signed with the donor was invalid, the court said. (The state argued that unless a physician were involved, there was no way to prove whether a man was really just a sperm donor as opposed to the mother’s lover.)
Not every state has a law like this. But there are a number of other legal traps for people who participate in artificial insemination, and it’s important to get legal advice if this is something you’re considering.