Modern technology is drastically changing the landscape of divorce. A recent court case on the West Coast has opened up a question for couples in Utah and the rest of the country: What happens to frozen embryos if the couple divorces? Though the answer may seem obvious, other factors come into play that make this issue quite complicated.
The couple had decided to freeze embryos after the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing the radiation and chemotherapy treatments would render her virtually infertile, the frozen embryos were essentially their only choice for having children. During this process, they signed a contract stating that, should they divorce, the embryos would be destroyed.
Though this issue has been raised in divorce courts throughout the country, this case in particular is raising eyebrows. On one hand, the man does not want to be responsible for raising a child, paying child support and other factors. Plus, the contract they signed was rather explicit when it came to divorce. But, on the other hand, because of the cancer treatments, the wife would likely never have any other opportunity to have children of her own. Additionally, attorneys on both side are arguing the legal validity of the signed contract.
Whichever way the courts rule, it could have a profound impact on future decisions in cases throughout the country. Courts tend to side with the party that does not want to procreate, but at the same time have never ruled against a party if the frozen embryos were the only way they could have biological children.
Though this may not be a common issue, figuring out child support and other problems are. Anyone who is going through a difficult divorce in Utah may benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney.
Source: Utah Public Radio, “After A Divorce, What Happens To A Couple’s Frozen Embryos?” Jennifer Ludden, August 22, 2015