When going through a divorce, there are often unexpected issues that may surface beyond financial assets and child custody. All marital assets have to be listed and equitably distributed, including unusual ones such as frozen fertilized eggs. This is an uncommon issue in divorce and has only been brought up in courts in five states. It is a unique situation with the potential for challenging complications compared to dividing other assets.
If a couple has difficulty conceiving, they may seek help from a fertility expert. The woman’s eggs can be harvested and fertilized, then implanted. Some of the eggs can be saved for future use if the implant is not successful. Fertilized eggs are also saved in some cases when cancer treatments may prevent a woman from conceiving in the future. If the embryos are not used, they may be included in a list of the marital assets in the event of a divorce.
Numerous Factors Influence Court Decisions
One recent case in Pennsylvania involved a woman who had fertilized eggs frozen when she developed breast cancer. When she and her husband divorced, she wanted to keep the eggs, as they were her only opportunity to have a biological child. The husband disagreed, claiming that the court could not force him to become a parent against his will. The Chester County court weighed both of these arguments and eventually awarded the eggs to the wife. The husband appealed the decision, but the Superior Court enforced the trial court’s decision.
This ruling was unique, as other states have generally agreed that they could not force parenthood on an unwilling spouse. There are a number of factors that could affect the court’s decision, such as who paid for the harvesting procedures in the first place. If a couple already has biological children that may also affect the court’s decision. The couple’s religious beliefs may even become a factor, if one spouse is strongly against abortion.
The safest way to avoid these difficulties during a divorce is to come up with a contingency plan for the eggs before undergoing the treatments. Most couples going through this process do not anticipate going through a divorce, so these issues can catch them off guard. If you are going through a divorce and need help sorting through a fertilized egg custody issue, an experienced divorce attorney can help you review your options and come to a solution.
Bel Air Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Families Resolve Complex Issues
Bel Air divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC have the knowledge and experience to help individuals going through divorce with complex property division matters. Our professional, compassionate legal team is committed to helping your and your spouse reach a resolution that works for you while protecting your interests. With offices conveniently located in Hunt Valley, we handle Maryland family law issues throughout Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County and Howard County, including the areas of Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Columbia and Bel Air. Call us today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation with a qualified Baltimore divorce lawyer.