Frozen embryos and divorce

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

During a divorce, addressing issues related to children can be difficult. Making decisions regarding embryos that were created by in-vitro fertilization is one of the more unique ones that some estranged Missouri couples may have to resolve.

The parents are generally required to sign documents at the beginning of their IVF journey regarding the preservation of their embryos. However, these agreements do not provide much details about what would happen to the embryos should the relationship of the parents change, other than providing the options of donating the embryos to someone else, destroying them, giving them to medical researchers or allow them to remain frozen.

There is currently a lack of significant case law regarding how to resolve disputes regarding the handling of preserved embryos in the context of divorce. There is also a question as to whether the agreements that parents sign at IVF facilities are even legally binding. No matter how legally sound an IVF agreement seems to be, until the frozen embryos are placed in the mother’s body, the parents have the option of changing their minds.

Frozen embryos are considered personal property that belongs to both parents. When single women are undergoing IVF by themselves, the sperm donor can claim no legal rights to the stored embryos. Legal disputes concerning the disposition of frozen embryos can last for many years. In the meantime, the parents will have to continue to pay to have frozen embryos continue to be preserved. A family law attorney may assist a client with resolving a variety of divorce issues, including those concerning complex property division issues such as this one.

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