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A father, not a sperm donor

Ignorance of the law is no defense. Typically, this saying is attached to criminal issues, but it has broader applicability. It generally means that you can still be held accountable for your actions, even if you did not know something was against the law.

From the administration of justice perspective, this is a good thing, as some studies have found that we do not really know how many laws are on the books, so if knowledge of the law were a prerequisite to enforcement, few laws would ever be enforced.

A case from Kansas can provide a cautionary tale for some of our Illinois clients. A man answered a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple. They wanted to conceive a child, and he signed a contract renouncing his parental rights. A court, however, has found him to be the "presumptive father." 

It seems the state has a statue that requires the use of a "licensed physician" for a sperm donor to be deemed a sperm donor and not just a father. And this is not just semantics, because it means he could be potentially liable for $6,000 of child support.

The lesbian couple broke up, and because Kansas does not recognize same-sex marriage, the couple was never married. When the mother applied for state aid, the state went looking for the father to pick up the tab.

While this seems unfair, as none of the parties intended that he would be considered a father of the child or responsible for child support, the consequences of failing to comply with the statute could be severe for the man.

Paternity, child custody and child support are serious issues and before you make a decision that involves any element of those matters, you should consult an attorney before you fully understand the potential ramifications.

Source:, "Court: Marotta is a father, not merely a sperm donor," Steve Fry, January 23, 2014

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