Divorce cases involving frozen embryos can sometimes result in litigation when one spouse wishes to keep the embryos with the intention of having children and the other spouse wishes to have hem destroyed. Even with a preexisting agreement, problems can arise.
A Colorado couple found themselves in a similar situation. Although they had an agreement, their contract left it to the courts to decide what would happen to their frozen embryos if they could not agree in the event of a divorce – in this case the ex-wife wanted to keep the embryos and the husband did not.
As it turns out, the District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals sided with the husband and awarded him the embryos. However, the Colorado State Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, sending it back to trial court with six guiding factors for the court to consider:
1. Courts should consider the intended use of the party seeking to preserve the pre-embryos
2. A party’s demonstrated ability, or inability, to become a genetic parent through means other than use of the disputed pre-embryos
3. The parties’ reasons for undertaking in vitro fertilization in the first place
4. The emotional, financial, or logistical hardship for the person seeking to avoid becoming a genetic parent
5. Any demonstrated bad faith or attempt to use the pre-embryos as unfair leverage in the divorce process
6. Other considerations relevant to the parties’ specific situation
Factors the court ruled irrelevant included whether or not the party seeking to become a genetic parent can “afford a child”, whether the parent has “existing children”, and their “ability to adopt” – some of the very factors the lower courts likely looked at when awarding the embryos to the Colorado man.
The twists and turns of the ongoing case in Colorado demonstrate what can occur regarding the disposition of embryos in a divorce. Although the couple had a preexisting agreement, leaving the decision up to the courts has no doubt been costly in terms of time and money not to mention the emotional toll these types of situations can have on the parties involved.
What Will Happen to Frozen Embryos in a Divorce?
Contact an Experienced Illinois Frozen Embryos Lawyer for Answers
Couples who wish to pursue IVF options are well advised to enter into agreements that are well thought out to avoid a contentious battle over frozen embryos in the event of divorce. With more people attempting IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies, it is important to work with an Illinois lawyer that has extensive frozen embryo experience to be able to address the complex issues that could arise. If you have questions regarding any family law matter, contact the Libertyville law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for immediate assistance today.