By Mark Wachtler
January 12, 2013. Kansas City. (ONN) Anyone who still believes men, fathers in particular, still have reproductive rights, might want to read the following story. These days, the child support collections industry is so belligerent, that even men who’ve never had kids before are forced to pay. One Kansas man is fighting the system now and all he did was perform a good deed, albeit with his sperm.
William Marotta, sued by Kansas for child support because he donated sperm to a lesbian couple in 2009.
To the government, the media, the welfare department and too many moms out there, he’s simply another deadbeat dad. But William Marotta thought he was taking a stand on behalf of a good cause and helping two people who wanted to be parents but were being shut out by a system prejudiced against gay couples.
Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer were a lesbian couple living together in Kansas who desperately wanted to be parents, so desperately, the Topeka-Capital Journal reported that they had 8 children together. Whether Marotta knew that or not in 2009 when he contacted the girls’ Craigslist ad isn’t disclosed. What is known is that William Marotta agreed to donate sperm so the lesbian couple could have a child of their own. To show just how good natured the simple auto mechanic is, while the Craigslist ad offered $50 for the sperm, he donated it for free.
Being typical Americans without the resources to hire doctors and lawyers, Schreiner, Bauer and Marotta drew up legal documents themselves. The papers, signed by all parties, agreed that Marotta was simply donating his sperm and if a child was born, Bauer and Schreiner agreed to assume all legal parental responsibilities, and specifically, not seek child support.
Thanks to Marotta, Jennifer Schreiner soon became pregnant. And for those wondering, he did not implant his semen manually. He simply provided it to the girls in a small container. Schreiner and Bauer, without a doctor or hospital, handled the insemination themselves at home. And surprisingly, it worked.
Who’s your daddy?
Any single parent who’s ever applied for welfare probably knows how the system works. Welfare caseworkers demand to know who the fathers are of each and every child so the state can force them to not only reimburse the government for the family’s welfare benefits, including astronomically expensive medical bills in some cases, but to pay child support to the mother as well.
Between 2009 and 2012, Bauer and Schreiner broke up. Jennifer Schreiner retained physical custody of their now 3 year-old daughter. But in October 2012, Jennifer Schreiner and the child were forced to go on welfare. Upon applying, the Kansas Dept of Children and Family Services did what they always do – they demanded to know who the father is so they could collect child support.
After researching a number of local and national reports, the one thing consistently missing is a statement of any kind from the mother, Jennifer Schreiner. Being one that’s sat in that uncomfortable, humbling and humiliating chair at the DCFS offices applying for welfare, this author can only imaging the exchange.
After taking a breath to find the right words, Schreiner explained to this county caseworker how she and her former lesbian partner bought sperm on the internet and then inseminated it themselves, resulting in this beautiful 3 year-old child. The caseworker naturally assumed she made the story up to protect some abusive boyfriend, and to keep him from getting angry over having to take responsibility for his own child and violently dishing out retribution upon her.
From that second on, one can almost be assured that the caseworkers never gave one thought to going after the lesbian father who agreed to take legal responsibility for the child in writing. Instead, they went after William Marotta, who hadn’t had a thing to do with the couple or the child since he donated his sperm.
For her part, Jennifer Schreiner probably would have agreed to anything in order to receive assistance for herself and her kids. In order to receive any kind of assistance, welfare departments make parents sign over their legal right to receive child support, as well as agree that they may have to reimburse the state for any welfare they or their children receive. In reality, the state keeps the child support for weeks and even months in some cases, and after taking a portion of the money for the state, they finally give it to the mother.
In the case of one such form this author has in front of him, it reads, ‘Under State and Federal regulation, a person who receives cash assistance must give our department the right to the child support and/or medical support that a parent may owe to them. Also, when your child(ren) receives cash assistance, this means you may have to repay the State for all or part of the cash assistance benefits they receive.’
Campaign of terror
Out of the blue one day, William Marotta receives a form letter from the state of Kansas department of child support collections. Reading from the very same letter this writer received once, it reads, ‘This is an important notice. If you do not understand this notice, contact the Child Support Customer Service Call Center who can explain it to you – Your child support order referenced above is now monitored and enforced by the Division of Child Support Enforcement.’
One can only imagine what William Marotta thought of the surprise bill for $6,000 and counting, 3 years after he donated his sperm. He immediately decided to fight it. He appealed the ruling from DCFS, showing them the signed agreement between the three. But welfare caseworkers ruled against him – not because he didn’t deserve to win, but basically because he didn’t get a permit to donate his sperm.
The state argued that since he and the girls didn’t pay a hospital and lawyers to certify their agreement and the physical sperm donation, it didn’t happen. Since Marotta’s sperm donation, Kansas has enacted a law requiring all artificial insemination to be done by a licensed physician. Critics, including William Marotta, insist the law was passed by conservative politicians specifically to stop lesbian couples from legally conceiving children in the state.
The court fight
William Marotta hired a lawyer to fight the child support order, even though he says his meager salary can’t afford it. His attorney cites a 2007 case that went all the way to the Supreme Court in which a father was denied parental rights because his sperm was artificially inseminated and not conceived naturally. Marotta will argue that the court already decided that sperm donors have no parental rights or responsibilities, so the state of Kansas is out of bounds in going after him.
In the meantime, William Marotta has been feeling the full force of America’s child support collection industry. A machine in itself, it pumps out millions of threatening letters every day, millions of threatening phone calls and millions of behind the scenes acts of terror to make the lives of fathers so painful and miserable, that they pay their child support. In cases such as William Marotta, or your author who was actually raising the kids, the terror tactics go way beyond out-of-bounds.
Here is an excerpt from one such letter, ‘Payments on your child support order are overdue! YOU ARE NOW SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS: Garnishment of wages, reporting delinquency to Credit Bureaus, intercept of state and federal tax refunds, lottery winnings and unemployment compensation, placement of liens on autos, real estate and bank accounts, collection by IRS, requirement to post bond, denial and suspension of any license issued by a state agency, arrest and incarceration, and interest charged on arrears accrued.’
For those like William Marotta who wish to fight the actions against them, the state usually offers a way to request an appeal or a review by the child support collections department. But fathers should once again be warned.
As proudly confirmed by DCFS, the appeal’s judge is not impartial. As one appeals confirmation warns, ‘As a reminder, Child Support Enforcement attorneys DO NOT represent you. They represent this agency to uphold the Recommendations of the Office of Child Support Enforcement.’ Of course, the Office of Child Support Enforcement is the one carrying out the terror campaign to collect the child support in the first place. So, as the judge, attorneys and caseworkers all willingly admit, they’re all on the same side and the appeals process is rigged.
Considering it often takes years to settle a child support or child custody case, William Marotta may be waiting a long time for his day in court. As it is, his original hearing was scheduled for January 8. But due to what was blamed on ‘scheduling issues’, the trial has been postponed until April. In one sense, William Marotta is lucky. At least he has the funds to fight back. Most fathers, like this author, are forced to simply endure the terror while they struggle to try and raise their kids the best they can.
"The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent" - Mark Wachtler, Whiteout Press founder
But as DCFS caseworkers love to say, “Child support has nothing to do with children. It’s the mother’s money to spend as she sees fit.” At the same time, lawyers sympathetically say, “Why would you want to spend $50,000 on legal fees to fight a bogus $25,000 child support order? You’d be better of just paying it.” And when dad tries to seek help from legal charities or the government, he’s told most of those efforts have gone out of business. And unless you’re a woman or a minority and a victim of discrimination on the job, forget it.
In the end, William Marotta’s case isn’t just a humorous local story of a Craigslist sperm donation gone wrong. It’s yet another example of how the system isn’t just broken, it’s out of control. And it’s hurting innocent people, especially families and children. But as DCFS gladly reminds everyone, they don’t care. Child support has nothing to do with children.
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