When a couple creates frozen embryos, who has the right to them when the relationship dissolves? Is there a burden of child support or a question of visitation if one of the party moves forward against the other’s wishes? In an embryonic custody dispute between Nick Loeb and Sofia Vergara, the fate of two female embryos are in question, despite the parties signing an agreement stating that any embryos created through the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.
IVF use has become much more common these days. It is a legal issue, which should be approached carefully to ensure protection against embryo custody conflicts in the event of a separation or divorce.
In a case brought before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1998, Blisset v. Blisset, ((see full article)the parties had come to an oral agreement that the husband would not visit the children and the wife would not collect support from him.
Later, when the wife filed a petition seeking support, including past due support, current support, and college expenses the matter came before the court. The court found the parents’ initial agreement unenforceable largely because the parties failed to safeguard the children’s interests by ‘establishing in court’ the adequate financial support of the children and that ending visitation was not detrimental to the children. In this case, the parties agreement faltered without the blessing of judicial approval and the father was ordered to pay college expenses for his daughter, the back support, and medical and dental expenses for the children pursuant to the original divorce decree.
Many busy couples are taking proactive steps to ensure their ability to have a family in the future through processes such as in vitro fertilization. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that you are protected with regard to custody or other issues that arise. Attorney Gary Schlesinger has handled Frozen Embryos in Dissolution Cases (see updated article), presented on the topic at state gatherings of the Bar Association and has researched and written many supporting articles on the topic. Our family law attorneys can help you.