Advances in medical science often outpace changes in the law — and that can create some unexpected problems. For example, couples who have frozen embryos in advance of fertility treatments sometimes find their divorces rather complicated because of the emotional, ethical, moral and legal difficulties that are related to those embryos.
Most of the time, dividing up the marital assets is a fairly straightforward process, but that’s not quite true where embryos are concerned.
When you want to get pregnant, you aren’t thinking about divorce
Nobody goes through the invasive, expensive and sometimes frustrating process of fertility treatments while planning to get divorced. That means that many couples simply don’t think about the possibility that those embryos may still be sitting there if their marriages fail. For the most part, the industry doesn’t have many regulations to prompt couples to make advance decisions about what happens to the embryos if they’re no longer married.
This scenario has led to lawsuits between divorced spouses. Often one spouse seeks to use the embryos to have children and the other seeks to have them destroyed. The results of those lawsuits have been somewhat inconsistent, although at least one state passed legislation that says embryos have to be given to whichever spouse wants to use them to give life.
Custody of your embryos can be the most important issue of your split
If you and your spouse are experiencing marital discord and you have frozen embryos in storage, you need to anticipate that this could become a major issue — maybe the major issue — or your divorce. Early consultation with an experienced attorney can help you understand your options and what to expect in court. Find out more about how our office can help you.