JANUARY 12, 12:14 EST

Court: Child Support Is Kids' Right

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The right to child support belongs to the child alone and cannot be superseded by agreements between parents meant to let one parent avoid paying support, the state Superior Court ruled.

The unanimous decision Friday by the state's second-highest court came in the appeal of Conrad Weniger of Crawford County. He fathered the 5-year-old son of Susan Kesler after she allegedly agreed to not hold him to any financial obligation.

``This is not a case of an anonymous donor or a sperm bank,'' Judge Michael Eakin wrote for the three-judge panel. ``While science has enabled all manner of assisted conception, we decline to recognize a category of `artificial insemination by intercourse.'''

The two had a longtime sexual relationship, though they were both married to others. After Kesler's husband died in 1988, Weniger said, she asked him to impregnate her and told him she would not seek child support payments.

A county judge had ruled no such agreement existed. Even if it had, that judge said, it would not override the boy's right to the money.

Weniger had argued in his appeal that he never would have impregnated her without the agreement.

But the panel agreed with the lower court in finding the relationship between Weniger and Kesler was less ``clinical'' than Weniger described — and he was still the boy's father.

``Even if (Weniger's) role has been as he suggests, merely that of a man obliging a friend with donations of sperm for 15 years, he cannot avoid his obligation to the child,'' Eakin said.

Copyright 2000 Associated Press.