Deciding the fate of frozen embryos in a divorce

Deciding the fate of frozen embryos in a divorce

| Oct 24, 2019 | Asset Division |

You made your frozen embryos in a time of need, and now with a looming divorce, you’ll have to revisit your intentions. Already laden with emotion, a divorce process embroiled with embryos can be difficult.

Alternative methods to pregnancy are popular in the U.S., with over 3,000 embryos frozen for preservation each year. But what happens to the embryos in a divorce can still be a grey area of the law. Contracts and agreements could dictate the proper procedure, but in some cases, the state of Illinois can step in and assign responsibility.

Outstanding obligations

The state generally considers embryos to be marital property, which means they’ll need assignment like the rest of your assets. The courts can make a ruling in this regard, but outstanding agreements can also impact how the process is handled:

  • Contracts: A contract will generally have authority when it comes time to decide how to handle the embryos as assets. If you made an agreement in case of a separation, then that could take priority.
  • Courts: The courts may need to step in and decide which of you to back if no agreement can be made. The court could weight factors like an inability to become a genetic parent or an unwillingness to be responsible for a child.
  • Clinics: The fertility clinic you attended likely had you sign a stack of documents, including an agreement that affects the fate of the embryos should something happen to your partnership. It’s not unheard of for a clinic to outline measures, like discarding or donating them.

Navigating such unprecedented and emotional territory can be daunting, especially when no two cases are alike. Knowing the process can help you to address intent regarding such a profoundly sensitive asset.