In vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, has become a common procedure for women struggling with infertility issues. Currently there are over four million frozen embryos being stored in facilities across the United States. Patients may pay upwards of $600 per year to store frozen embryos in a perpetual state of cryogenic sleep. When potential parents decide not to use their embryos, they must decide whether to maintain them in storage, donate them to science, donate them to other infertile couples, or thaw and destroy them. There is very little legislation governing how facilities are to handle unwanted frozen embryos, and their destruction is a common practice.
Recently, a case out of California has highlighted some of the ethical and legal questions surrounding the growing practice of IVF. A California couple created five frozen embryos in 2010, but divorced in 2013 before using the embryos. Upon creating the embryos in 2010, they signed an agreement with the fertility clinic that the embryos would be destroyed in the event of divorce. The California woman challenged the validity of the agreement during the course of her divorce, citing a history of cancer, which has made it difficult for her to conceive biological children. Her ex-husband feared that she was attempting to get custody of the embryos in order to secure future child support payments from him. There is case law to support his position. Women have successfully sued sperm donors for child support and other financial compensation.
A California Superior Court tentatively ruled that the agreement the couple made with the fertility clinic to destroy the embryos was valid and in accordance with its terms, the embryos must be thawed and destroyed. The judge stated that although the woman had a right to procreate, she didn’t have a right to procreate with her ex-husband.
There is no federal law specifying how frozen embryos are to be handled in the event of divorce. Rather, the handling of frozen embryos is governed on a state-by-state basis and contracts between IVF clinics and their patients are the standard.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent IVF Couples Going Through a Divorce
The knowledgeable Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC assist clients navigate the complex issues relating to divorce. If you are experiencing a divorce, we can answer your questions. We represent clients throughout Maryland, including Baltimore County, Harford County and Howard County, as well as residents of Towson, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster and Essex. Our offices are conveniently located in Towson, East Pikesville and Hunt Valley, Maryland. Speak to an experienced Towson divorce lawyer today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online.