The problem of custody of frozen embryos in a dissolution case is in the news once again. In a previous blog we touched on the topic as it relates to an Illinois doctor determined to gain custody of her and her ex-boyfriends jointly conceived embryos and of the high profile case playing out between celebrity Sophia Vergara and her ex over the same issue.
In a recent story, two Harvard grads from the San Francisco bay area are slugging it out over their frozen embryos in a divorce proceeding. Much like the case in Illinois, the woman and man involved jointly conceived embryos in response to the woman’s cancer diagnosis, hoping to preserve the possibility of having children after receiving radiation treatment.
In contrast to the Illinois case, where the couple entered into an oral agreement, the San Francisco couple signed documents to direct the destruction of the embryos under certain circumstances, including divorce. In both cases, when the couples split, the custody of the embryos became a point of contention.
The trial breaks new ground in California, where the courts have not addressed the question of embryo custody in a split. On the one hand, this is clearly the only shot the woman will have for a biological child. She would like the embryos preserved. On the other, the man does not want to be forced into parenting obligations despite his soon to be ex-wife’s claim he will be discharged of all responsibility and wants the embryos destroyed.
Reproductive technology use is on the rise. Couples considering frozen embryo options for a variety of reasons such as medical necessity, timing or other concerns should seek experienced legal help to protect your interests now and in the future. Contact the Law Offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Frozen Embryo Feud: San Francisco Trial Starts in Divorce Fight”, by Howard Mintz, July 14, 2015.