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Does Child Support Have You Running Scared?

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I wanted to write this for my POV on a conversation that I have dealt with in practice and while on KDR. It is sad that the laws do not offer more protections to our known donors, but until that day comes we'll have to make do on trust and a prayer.


I don’t believe finances should ever determine whether a woman CAN have a child or not.  There are plenty of poor women who raise happy, well-adjusted children.  The problem lies in who should PAY for a woman’s decision to have these children.  In most instances on KDR, women are deliberately choosing to become single mothers and go in with the intentions of raising a child on their own.  This means being solely responsible for the care, custody and well-being of the child.  There are those women who have no concept what that means or can fathom how ridiculously expensive it is to raise a child.  This doesn’t mean she cannot have children or should not have children, but the question of who should PAY for her decision is legitimate one.


On average, the cost of raising a child in the U.S. is $227,000 from birth to age 18, not including college. This is to provide for a decent middle-class upbringing. So, we are looking at an average of $12,611/yr.  How many women on KDR can honestly say they have an extra $12,611/yr in income to prove they are financially ready for a child? If this were the test, how many would pass?  Are these the same women who nickel-and-dime donors on the cost of shipping kits, shipping costs or reimbursements?


I do not believe a donor wants to contribute to a situation knowing that a child is going to be raised at or beneath the poverty level.  Many donors want to know that the children they help create will have good lives. However, “good” is relative.  And, we should be hesitant to impose our definition of “good” on to another.  Yet, let’s not be naïve.  In America, one in four of children under age 6 is raised in poverty. Children next to seniors are the poorest in this country.  Children need resources to thrive. Money is a resource and provides a wealth of opportunity.  Given the moral obligation that a donor may feel he has, and the legal threat of child support that he faces perhaps, it is his place to inquire, if not judge, whether a recipient has the financial means to provide for a child.  His inquiry and nosiness into our pocketbooks may be his only shield of defense in thwarting off or sniffing out the possibility of a child support case.


Money is a sensitive subject to discuss in any type of setting, thus it is no surprise that it puts donors and recipients on the offense/defense when brought up in donor-recipient discussions. In effort to aid the discussions, I intend to offer just a few topics that are often relevant in child support cases (but also applicable for our purposes) brought by individuals having custody of the child or state enforcement units. Perhaps, a nervous donor scared by the thought of a child support suit will feel more comfortable donating to a recipient who is more financially transparent.


Employment. What does the recipient’s employment history look like? Does the recipient have marketable, transferable job skills? How long has she been with her current employer? Is there room for advancement or promotion? Does donor have a right to terminate the donor agreement if recipient loses her job and conception has not occurred?


Care. How does the recipient plan to provide for the necessary support and education of the child? How will she do so in the event of job lay off? Does the recipient need to or plans to apply for WIC, foodstamps, subsidized day care or housing, or cash benefits as a means to financially support the child?  Is she relying on family for financial support, daycare or aftercare?


Cost of Pregnancy. Does the recipient have sufficient insurance coverage or is able to accept as an out-of-pocket expense all medical expenses connected to her pregnancy and medical expenses connected to the birth of the child?  Can she provide proof of insurance and dependent coverage? Will she qualify for a paid maternity leave?


Health Insurance. How does recipient plan to provide health care coverage? Does she receive health care as a benefit of her employment? If separated from employment, can she afford COBRA?


Uninsured and Non-reimbursable Health Care Costs. How does recipient plan to provide for any and all uninsured or non-reimbursable health care costs that include medical, dental, orthodontic, therapeutic, optical and hospital expenses?


Tax Dependency Exemptions. How does your agreement address tax dependency exemptions? In the case of a child support suit how will those tax dependency exemptions be applied to offset child support paid?


Death. Should recipient suffer an untimely death what preparations are in place to provide care for the minor donor-conceived child thereafter? Life insurance? Retirement funds? Trust? Will? Guardianship appointment? What provisions are in place to discourage family members or other care givers from seeking child support from donor or filing for public assistance?


Inheritance. Should donor agree to contact between himself and the child how will donor best prepare to shield his estate from the donor-conceived child?  In many states, a biological child can force a share against a will and inherit through intestacy. 


Breach. How does your donor agreement address breach of the agreement where recipient does file for and receive public assistance or files for child support? In many states, parental indemnification agreements with respect to child support are void as being against public policy.  Moreover, parents cannot contract away child support rights belonging to the child.


My legal disclaimer:  This information is designed to help you as a point of reference for your own research and should not be considered legal advice.  Legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. It is recommended you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. 

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  • Guest - A_Dad

    A very good post.

    Often the women who have the best chances conceiving are the least financially secure, because they are young and just starting their careers. I guess I look for a sense of responsibility in them. Have they thought this through? Are they going to do right by this child in the world? A baby is not only a desire, it's a responsibility.

    I've also wondered about medical insurance. In Canada health care is provided by the state. What would happen if the child has a disability or handicap and the care expenses too much for the recipient to shoulder on her own? Does the child become the donor's charge as well? Of course a special needs child must be cared for. Do donors realize the implications?

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  • Scared enough to stop donating? No, but the recent post from another donor being hit with multiple lawsuits in the other "Child Support" thread certainly raised my eyebrows...

    I'll second your basic point that donors need to ask a lot of questions, and satisfy themselves that the recipient isn't likely to need financial support. And that in the end it all comes down to trust.

    Thanks for this post btw - it's a nice summary of a very important topic of conversation during the matchmaking process.


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  • I always screen my recipients throughly, for many things. One of thiese is finances. I won't donate to those that I feel can't afrod a child, or would be taking *any* goverment assistance to help them care for a child. I feel that's my responsibility as a donor.

    As to my fear of child support, no I'm not afraid. As I said i screen my recipient's through; if I didn't trust them I would not donate to them. By the time I agree to help a couple I'm confident that they will make excellent recipients, but i'm also confident I can trust them. I know my recipients, and by knowing them i know they wouldn't try to push child support. Once again If I did not have that level of trust I wouldn't donate.

    I have an added level of protection though. Any money I donate to child support is effectively taken from my charitable donations. My quality of life wouldn't change any. What would change is that I could not save lives with that money. I hope I never donate to *anyone* who would knowingly break a contract only to steal money away from children who truly need it! I want what is best for the children I donate for, but ultimately I feel my money does more good supporting efficent charities (and I stress that second to last word, many charities are not efficient, Givewell.com is a great sight that helps me ensure I support a truly efficient charity). While I believe there are some morally bankrupt enough to steal from those who truly need the support, I don't think I'll ever donate to them. I'm going to focus on helping as many as I can and trust, as always, that basic human decency will prevent others from taking advantage of my attempt to help them.

    Of course I take every legal precaution as well, but ultimately it's the quality of the wonderful women I'm lucky enough to assist I am relaying on, not a legal paper, for my protection.

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  • Same here, of course I am not running scared as I am still on this website, but I am still cautious. This is not high school, as responsible legal adults in society, we need to ask some tough questions when it comes to bringing a helpless little life into this world. If you can't ask the tough questions, or be asked the tough questions, you may need to rethink if this route is for you. Most of the women, if not all, are on here for the best of reasons, and I support that, though its the responsible thing to verify that. I don't mind if people don't make the largest amount of money, but when someone wants to intentionally bring a child into this world when at the start there is absolutely no income nor a place of your own to support a child that is going to depend on you for everything, I see major red flags. I have read rants from people getting mad at donors for asking questions about financial status to make sure the mother can afford the child. Recipients and donors have to remember its a two way street. Recipients get to screen who their donor is going to be based off of multiple factors, and we as the donors should be able to do the same, as its our moral obligation, and in the courts eyes, can be our financial obligation. I like how you lay out the overall big picture of things for people to consider when it comes to income and health benefits, not just the flat out at the end of the week paycheck.

    Comment last edited on about 2 years ago by portlandoregon97206
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  • I definitely feel donors have a right to protect themselves by screening recipients. There are some donors who probably wouldn't donate to me because I don't bring a lot of money home, but that is mostly because I am trying to get my writing career to take off and I am not terribly materialistic so I choose not to make more money than I need. That way I have more time to focus on my writing, my photography, and doing things with the kids in my extended family. I have a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Development and an expired teaching license, so if I needed to or chose to find a higher paying (but more time consuming) source of income, I would be able to without much struggle. I'm insured and the maternity and wellchild benefits are really awesome, but maybe my actual income would make some donors cautious.

    I think along with the issues you address above, there might also be situations where a donor would realize there are exceptions to the raw income question. "Ok, so it's not that you don't have potential, but if money isn't that important to you, what kinds of plans do you have in place to be frugal once the child arrives." In my case, I would consider it irresponsible to plan to go on assistance after intentionally creating a child, so I spent two years preparing before I joined this site, saving a couple thousand dollars up and putting plans into place.

    I have always wanted to cloth diaper (one time cost) and breastfeed (free). At least seven members of my family would jump at the chance to care for my child negating childcare costs those first couple years. People would be surprised how easily one can find barely-worn, name brand, baby clothing at thrift stores for 50 cents to a couple bucks a piece because children grow so fast and materialistic people buy way too much for their little ones. My current health insurance covers wellchild checkups and vaccinations 100% because my workplace is very serious about the health of their employees and their dependents.

    I am totally in agreement that future single mothers by choice need to be completely ready and serious about what they are getting themselves into. I just wanted to throw out there that sometimes actual income may not always be the end-all factor of whether a woman is ready. Perhaps it's more a matter of whether she's thought carefully about whether she's prepared for the effort of raising her child without causing a drop in her standard of living. For me, I want my child to be as thrifty, environmentally conscious, and frugal as I am so I will reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-purpose as a single regardless of my income. And I actually want my child to grow up in a household where excessive spending is kept to a minimum so that I don't have to work away from home as much and I can spend more time with him or her.

    And of course, my hope is to one day have my writing career take off so I can work from home. Until then, I am very gainfully employed and making the money I need to pay for my bills and heavily prepare for maternity leave and baby costs. :-) This is a really good post. So many great points. Thanks Legalpadgurl for making this topic an official blog.

    1 Like
  • My thoughts go back to when our family got started. We were university students. We needed to get jobs. My wife fainted during a job interview while explaining something at a whiteboard. She didn't want to mention she was pregnant, fearing they would not hire someone only to loose them on maternity leave. Someone caught her. She told them she was pregnant, but she got the job anyway. Our first house was reasonable priced. But we found out the basement was prone to flooding. I remember buying a case of baby formula and thinking "at least the child won't go hungry for the next month".

    We worked hard and were responsible, and things eventually got better. Four years later we finally felt we could afford another child. Then a third. We moved to another city and both got decent jobs. The students loans got paid off. Life became comfortable.

    It's to be expected that young people won't be well off financially. Warren Buffet says he doesn't invest in companies, he invests in management, in people. Berkshire Hathaway sold carpet when he first bought it. But he liked the management team.

    Someone with a million in the bank may be a spendthrift and fritter it all away. Someone just starting out may not have much, but you just know they will succeed. It's a matter of character isn't it?

    As a donor the question is "will this recipient do right by the child?", "will they do right by me? (and keep their agreements)" These are not easy questions to answer. But they are important.

    A donor in another thread indicated 4 recipients sued him for child support out of 12. That's a high number and I would guess not at all typical. I suspect there was some collusion among them (one reason some donors are uneasy about sibling registries and agreement breaking). It's a hard way to learn a lesson: screening is important for donors too.

    Comment last edited on about 2 years ago by A_Dad
    2 Like
  • Your text to link

    Other side of support :-)


    Dear Prudence,
    My friend is pregnant with her first and probably only child. This was a complete surprise, as she thought she couldn't have children. The father is someone she dated for a few weeks. She has decided not to tell him about the pregnancy based on his behavior when they were dating. He made comments that she was dirty because she wanted to have sex. (He was OK with them having sex, however.) He talked creepily about how he wanted to protect and save her. Then she went on a camping trip with a group of friends, which included some guys, and he got very jealous. He called her a slut, said he wished her puppy would die, and hoped one of her friends got cancer. She ended the relationship then found out she was pregnant and she’s having the child. Her family supports her decision not to ever tell the father. But she asked my advice, and I'm torn. I think the guy is crazy, but she could use the financial support. Also, in the future the child will have many questions, and my friend will have to say she barely knew the father of her child. What do you think she should do?
    —She’s Having His Baby

    Dear Having,
    I often avow that I’m in in favor of honesty and truthfulness, then I find myself sometimes adding “but ...” This is one of those cases. First of all, let this be a warning to people (even those who assume they’re likely infertile) who decide to have sex with partners they barely know. There really are reliable forms of birth control available, and it’s good to use one so that people don’t end up mixing gametes with someone they end up wishing they’d never met. I agree with you that it’s generally better for a single mother to be at the least getting financial support from the person who impregnated her, and for a child to have an acquaintance with his or her father. Except, that is, if the father is a bizarre, disturbed creep, as this guy appears to be. I’m going to guess this man has often found himself in serious disagreements with his bosses and may not be the most stable source of income. But let’s say he’s gainfully employed. Letting him know about the child in order to get child support would probably be setting up your friend for a lifetime of liens, supervised visits, restraining orders, and the other legal appurtenances than go along with dealing with a lunatic for the rest of your life. Sure, she’s going to have to tell an unusual origin story to her child someday. But for many years to come all she has to say is a truncated version of the truth: Mommy and Daddy didn’t know each other very well and she doesn’t know where Daddy is. She can add that she and her child, and their relatives, make up one very happy family. So I go along with your friend’s desire to keep her secret. Let’s hope the father scuttles back into a hole and never gets wind of the amazing news.

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  • I believe in a written agreement especially for same sex couples. My state doesn't consider my donor a donor because a doctor did not inseminate me, we did it ourselves after it was handed off. My Dr already said my wife will have to adopt our baby, also we need papers drawn up for the hospital to put my wife on the birth certificate. I'm at 5 months, haven't received my papers back from our donor that were sent to him in November '12. Without the pre registration for my wife to be on the birth certificate there is no protection to my family core or protection for the donor. My wife is angry, and annoyed that he hasn't sent them back, I just want to keep my family-this baby on the way has 2 moms and a donor. I don't need the government trying to intervene and tell me it has a father. Any suggestions?

    0 Like

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