1. Introduction
2. The Right to Procreate
  2.1 Skinner v. Okla.
  2.2 Wiscon. v. Oakley
  2.3 Involuntary Sterilization
  2.4 Kin Selection
  2.5 Marriage
  2.5.1 Anonymous
  2.5.2 Tompkins v. Tompkins
  2.5.3 Williams v. Williams
  2.6 Transgender Marriage
  2.7 Polygamy
  2.8 Prostitution
  In Brief
3. Who Is My Family?
3.1 Family Identity and the Right to Associate with Kin
  3.2 Marriage and the Paternity Presumption
  3.2.1 Jones v. Trojak
  3.2.2 Michael H. v. Gerald D.
  3.2.3 William "TT" v. Siobhan "HH"
3.3 Paternity Estoppel
3.4 Equitable Parenthood
3.5 Duty to Support
  3.6 The Paramour Statute
  3.7 Maternal Transmission of Citizenship
  In Brief
4. Whose Child Is This?
  4.1 The Surrogate Cases
  4.1.1 Johnson v. Calvert
  4.1.2 Belsito v. Clark
  4.2 Shotgun Weddings
  4.2.1 Fairchild v. Fairchild
  4.2.2 Gard v. Gard
  4.2.3 B. v. S.
  In Brief
5. Shopping For Eggs & Sperm
  5.1 Bad Sperm
  5.2 Cryogenic Orphans & Waifs
  5.2.1 Gifts of Sperm
  5.2.2 Who Is My Father?
  In Brief
6. Sexual Orientation
  6.1 The Right to Practice One’s Sexual Orientation
  6.2 Discriminating on the Basis of Sexual Orientation
6.3 Same-sex Adoption
6.4 Same-sex Marriages
  In Brief

2.2.  State of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. David W. Oakley, Defendant-Appellant-Petitioner.


2001 WI 103; 245 Wis. 2d 447; 629 N.W.2d 200; 2001 Wisc. LEXIS 434

July 10, 2001, Opinion Filed



JON P. WILCOX, J. This case presents two issues. n1 First, we must decide whether as a condition of probation, a father of nine children, who has intentionally refused to pay child support, can be required to avoid having another child, unless he shows that he can support that child and his current children. We conclude that in light of Oakley's ongoing victimization of his nine children and extraordinarily troubling record manifesting his disregard for the law, this anomalous condition--imposed on a convicted felon facing the far more restrictive and punitive sanction of prison--is not overly broad and is reasonably related to Oakley's rehabilitation. Simply put, because Oakley was convicted of intentionally refusing to pay child support--a felony in Wisconsin--and could have been imprisoned for six years, which would have eliminated his right to procreate altogether during those six years, this probation condition, which infringes on his right to procreate during his term of probation, is not invalid under these facts. Accordingly, we hold that the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion.


David Oakley (Oakley), the petitioner, was initially charged with intentionally refusing to pay child support for his nine children he has fathered with four different women. The State subsequently charged Oakley with seven counts of intentionally refusing to provide child support …

After taking into account Oakley's ability to work and his consistent disregard of the law and his obligations to his children, Judge Hazlewood observed that "if Mr. Oakley had paid something, had made an earnest effort to pay anything within his remote ability to pay, we wouldn't be sitting here," nor would the State argue for six years in prison. But Judge Hazlewood also recognized that "if Mr. Oakley goes to prison, he's not going to be in a position to pay any meaningful support for these children." Therefore, even though Judge Hazlewood acknowledged that Oakley's "defaults, are obvious, consistent, and inexcusable," he decided against sentencing Oakley to six years in prison consecutive to his three-year sentence in Sheboygan County, as the State had advocated. Instead, Judge Hazlewood sentenced Oakley to three years in prison on the first count, imposed and stayed an eight-year term on the two other counts, and imposed a five-year term of probation consecutive to his incarceration. Judge Hazlewood then imposed the condition at issue here: while on probation, Oakley cannot have any more children unless he demonstrates that he had the ability to support them and that he is supporting the children he already had.


Oakley challenges the constitutionality of a condition of his probation for refusing to pay child support. The constitutionality of a condition of probation raises a question of law, which this court reviews independently without deference to the decisions of the circuit court or the court of appeals. See State v. Griffin, 131 Wis. 2d 41, 49, 388 N.W.2d 535 (1986); Edwards v. State, 74 Wis. 2d 79, 85, 246 N.W.2d 109 (1976).

Refusal to pay child support by so-called "deadbeat parents" has fostered a crisis with devastating implications for our children. n4 Of those single parent households with established child support awards or orders, approximately one-third did not receive any payment while another one-third received only partial payment. For example, in 1997, out of $ 26,400,000,000 awarded by a court order to custodial mothers, only $ 15,800,000,000 was actually paid, amounting to a deficit of $ 10,600,000,000.  These figures represent only a portion of the child support obligations that could be collected if every custodial parent had a support order established. Single mothers disproportionately bear the burden of nonpayment as the custodial parent. On top of the stress of being a single parent, the nonpayment of child support frequently presses single mothers below the poverty line. In fact, 32.1% of custodial mothers were below the poverty line in 1997, in comparison to only 10.7% of custodial fathers.  Indeed, the payment of child support is widely regarded as an indispensable step in assisting single mothers to scale out of poverty, especially when their welfare benefits have been terminated due to new time limits.

The effects of the nonpayment of child support on our children are particularly troubling. In addition to engendering long-term consequences such as poor health, behavioral problems, delinquency and low educational attainment, inadequate child support is a direct contributor to childhood poverty. And childhood poverty is all too pervasive in our society. Over 12 million or about one out of every six children in our country lives in poverty. In Wisconsin, poverty strikes approximately 200,000 of our children with 437,000 at or below 200% of the poverty level in 1999. Although payment of child support alone may not end childhood poverty, it could reduce current levels and raise childhood standards of living. Child support--when paid--on average amounts to over one-quarter of a poor child's family income. There is little doubt that the payment of child support benefits poverty-stricken children the most. Enforcing child support orders thus has surfaced as a major policy directive in our society.

In view of the suffering children must endure when their noncustodial parent intentionally refuses to pay child support, it is not surprising that the legislature has attached severe sanctions to this crime. Wis. Stat. § 948.22(2). This statute makes it a Class E felony for any person "who intentionally fails for 120 or more consecutive days to provide spousal, grandchild or child support which the person knows or reasonably should know the person is legally obligated to provide . . . ." A Class E felony is punishable with "a fine not to exceed $ 10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 2 years, or both." Wis. Stat. § 939.50(3)(e). The legislature has amended this statute so that intentionally refusing to pay child support is now punishable by up to five years in prison. See Wis. Stat. § 939.50(3)(e)(1999-2000).


In the present case, the record indicates that Judge Hazlewood was familiar with Oakley's   abysmal history prior to sentencing. The record reveals that Judge Hazlewood knew that Oakley had a number of support orders entered for his nine children, but he nevertheless continually refused to support them. He was aware that Oakley's probation for intimidating two witnesses in a child abuse case--where one of the witnesses was his own child and the victim--was in the process of being revoked. Judge Hazlewood was also apprised that Oakley had promised in the past to support his children, but those promises had failed to translate into the needed support. Moreover, he knew that Oakley had been employed and had no impediment preventing him from working. … Judge Hazlewood asserted that some prison time coupled with conditional probation might convince Oakley to stop victimizing his children. With probation, Judge Hazlewood sought to rehabilitate Oakley while protecting society and potential victims--Oakley's own children--from future wrongdoing.  The conditions were designed to assist Oakley in conforming his conduct to the law. In Wisconsin, as expressed in Wis. Stat. § 948.22(2), we have condemned unequivocally intentional refusal to pay child support and allow for the severe sanction of prison to be imposed on offenders. Here, the judge fashioned a condition that was tailored to that particular crime, but avoided the more severe punitive alternative of the full statutory prison term through the rehabilitative tool of probation. At the same time, Judge Hazlewood sought to protect the victims of Oakley's crimes--Oakley's nine children.

But Oakley argues that the condition imposed by Judge Hazlewood violates his constitutional right to procreate.  This court, in accord with the United States Supreme Court, has previously recognized the fundamental liberty interest of a citizen to choose whether or not to procreate. Eberhardy v. Circuit Court for Wood County, 102 Wis. 2d 539, 561, 307 N.W.2d 881 (1981); Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541, 86 L. Ed. 1655, 62 S. Ct. 1110 (1942) (recognizing the right to procreate as "one of the basic civil rights of man"). Accordingly, Oakley argues that the condition here warrants strict scrutiny.  That is, it must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. See Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 388, 54 L. Ed. 2d 618, 98 S. Ct. 673 (1978). Although Oakley concedes, as he must, that the State's interest in requiring parents to support their children is compelling, he argues that the means employed here is not narrowly tailored to serve that compelling interest because Oakley's "right to procreate is not restricted but in fact eliminated." According to Oakley, his right to procreate is eliminated because he "probably never will have the ability to support" his children. Therefore, if he exercises his fundamental right to procreate while on probation, his probation will be revoked and he will face the stayed term of eight years in prison.

While Oakley's argument might well carry the day if he had not intentionally refused to pay child support, it is well-established that convicted individuals do not enjoy the same degree of liberty as citizens who have not violated the law. See Evans, 77 Wis. 2d at 230 (asserting that "liberty enjoyed by a probationer is, under any view, a conditional liberty" and that probationer's "position is not that of a non-convicted citizen"); Von Arx v. Schwarz, 185 Wis. 2d 645, 658, 517 N.W.2d 540 (Ct. App. 1994) (observing that felon on probation does not enjoy the same constitutional guarantees as the citizenry). We emphatically reject the novel idea that Oakley, who was convicted of intentionally failing to pay child support, has an absolute right to refuse to support his current nine children and any future children that he procreates, thereby adding more child victims to the list.

Applying the relevant standard here, we find that the condition is not overly broad because it does not eliminate Oakley's ability to exercise his constitutional right to procreate. He can satisfy the condition of probation by making efforts to support his children as required by law. Judge Hazlewood placed no limit on the number of children Oakley could have. Instead, the requirement is that Oakley acknowledge the requirements of the law and support his present and any future children.  If Oakley decides to continue his present course of conduct--intentionally refusing to pay child support--he will face eight years in prison regardless of how many children he has. Furthermore, this condition will expire at the end of his term of probation. He may then decide to have more children, but of course, if he continues to intentionally refuse to support his children, the State could charge him again under § 948.22(2). Rather, because Oakley can satisfy this condition by not intentionally refusing to support his current nine children and any future children as required by the law, we find that the condition is narrowly tailored to serve the State's compelling interest of having parents support their children. It is also narrowly tailored to serve the State's compelling interest in rehabilitating Oakley through probation rather than prison. The alternative to probation with conditions--incarceration for eight years--would have further victimized his children.  And it is undoubtedly much broader than this conditional impingement on his procreative freedom for it would deprive him of his fundamental right to be free from physical restraint. Simply stated, Judge Hazlewood preserved much of Oakley's liberty by imposing probation with conditions rather than the more punitive option of imprisonment. See State v. Evans, 77 Wis. 2d 225, 230, 252 N.W.2d 664 (1977) ("Whether sentence 'is withheld or imposed and stayed, a convicted person's status as a probationer is a matter of grace or privilege and not a right' made possible by the legislature.") (citation omitted).


incarcerating him. Oakley must only stop committing the crime of intentionally refusing.

Moreover, the condition is reasonably related to the goal of rehabilitation. A condition is reasonably related to the goal of rehabilitation if it assists the convicted individual in conforming his or her conduct to the law. …  Here, Oakley was convicted of intentionally refusing to support his children. The condition at bar will prevent him from adding victims if he continues to intentionally refuse to support his children. As the State argues, the condition essentially bans Oakley from violating the law again. Future violations of the law would be detrimental to Oakley's rehabilitation, which necessitates preventing him from continuing to disregard its dictates. Accordingly, this condition is reasonably related to his rehabilitation because it will assist Oakley in conforming his conduct to the law.

DISSENT:  ANN WALSH BRADLEY, J. (dissenting). I begin by emphasizing the right that is at issue: the right to have children. The majority acknowledges this right, but certainly does not convey its significance and preeminence. The right to have children is a basic human right and an aspect of the fundamental liberty which the Constitution jealously guards for all Americans.  See Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 536, 86 L. Ed. 1655, 62 S. Ct. 1110 (1942).

Thus, the stakes are high in this case. The majority's decision allows, for the first time in our state's history, the birth of a child to carry criminal sanctions. Today's decision makes this court the only court in the country to declare constitutional a condition that limits a probationer's right to procreate based on his financial ability to support his children. Ultimately, the majority's decision may affect the rights of every citizen of this state, man or woman, rich or poor.

I wholeheartedly agree with the majority that the governmental interest at stake in this case is of great magnitude. The state has an interest in requiring parents such as Oakley to support their children. As the majority amply demonstrates, the lack of adequate support for children affects not only the lives of individual children, but also has created a widespread societal problem. However, when fundamental rights are at issue, the end does not necessarily justify the means. The majority concludes that the means of effecting the state's interest are sufficiently narrow in light of this governmental interest. I disagree.

While on its face the order leaves room for the slight possibility that Oakley may establish the financial means to support his children, the order is essentially a prohibition on the right to have children. Oakley readily admits that unless he wins the lottery, he will likely never be able to establish that ability. The circuit court understood the impossibility of Oakley satisfying this financial requirement when it imposed the condition. The court explained that "it would always be a struggle to support these children and in truth [Oakley] could not reasonably be expected to fully support them." …

First, prohibiting a person from having children as a condition of probation has been described as "coercive of abortion." In People v. Pointer, 151 Cal. App. 3d 1128, 199 Cal. Rptr. 357, the court concluded that a condition of probation prohibiting a female probationer from becoming pregnant was unconstitutional. It advanced that such a condition fosters state-coerced abortion:

In the event she became pregnant during the period of probation the surreptitious procuring of an abortion might be the only practical way to avoid going to prison. A condition of probation that might place a defendant in this position, and if so, be coercive of abortion, is in our view improper.

199 Cal. Rptr. at 366; see also State v. Mosburg, 13 Kan. App. 2d 257, 768 P.2d 313, 315 (Kan. Ct. App. 1989).

If the tables are turned to the present case where the probationer is a man, a similar risk arises. Because the condition is triggered only upon the birth of a child, the risk of imprisonment creates a strong incentive for a man in Oakley's position to demand from the woman the termination of her pregnancy. It places the woman in an untenable position: have an abortion or be responsible for Oakley going to prison for eight years. Creating an incentive to procure an abortion in order to comply with conditions of probation is a result that I am not prepared to foster.

Second, by allowing the right to procreate to be subjected to financial qualifications, the majority imbues a fundamental liberty interest with a sliding scale of wealth. Men and women in America are free to have children, as many as they desire. They may do so without the means to support the children and may later suffer legal consequences as a result of the inability to provide support. However, the right to have a child has never been rationed on the basis of wealth.