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Paternity issues come into conflict with medical technology

As technology moves forward, the law must also evolve to match it. This rule applies to everything from self-driving cars to software piracy to environmental protection. It also applies to medical reproductive technology, where issues such as surrogacy, paternity and artificial insemination often come into conflict with current family law. This is apparently the situation for a family in Kansas, where a man is being asked to pay child support for a daughter that was conceived through a sperm donation.

The 3-year-old girl is the child of a Kansas lesbian couple who solicited a sperm donation using an ad on Craigslist. A local man responded to the advertisement, and one of the women conceived a child through artificial insemination. All parties signed a contract confirming that the man would have no paternal rights or responsibilities with regard to child.

After the girl was born, however, the birth mother was forced to go on public assistance. The state demanded that she give the name of her child’s father in order to receive financial aid. When she provided the man’s name, the state contacted him and demanded that he repay the public assistance funds and pay child support.

Kansas state law does not support any paternity agreements for artificial inseminations that are conducted without the assistance of a physician. Since the couple did not use a doctor in their procedure, their agreement was viewed as invalid. Therefore, the man still finds himself liable to pay child support for the girl.

The man has vowed to fight the decision, claiming that the law is outdated and unfair. He says he believes the decision could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that’s true, a ruling there could even affect the laws here in Illinois.

The man’s legal troubles should act as a warning to other parties who may be thinking of entering into a donor agreement. Helping a couple conceive a child is a wonderful gift, but potential donors should be aware that there are strict legal ramifications involved. Parents and donors should be sure to speak to an attorney for information about the legalities of the process. Proper preparation can help all parties avoid any unforeseen — and expensive — legal complications.

Source: The Washington Times, “Who’s your daddy? Sperm donors, paternity, child support and the law,” Myra Fleischer, Jan. 17, 2013

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