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When divorce happens before IVF is completed

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2017 | Divorce |

In-vitro fertilization is an option for couples in Orange County who are having difficulty getting pregnant. The process involves the creation of embryos that are cryogenically stored before they are implanted in the mother’s womb. When a couple decides to end their marriage before the IVF process is completed, disputes may arise over the cryogenically stored embryos.

Most couples that start IVF are not overly concerned about the consent agreement that they sign, because both parties are focused on having children. However, the IVF consent agreement will be very important if a couple breaks up or their plan for having children suddenly changes. The document will state whether the stored embryos that were created should remain in the storage facility or be donated or destroyed.

Legal disputes over cryogenically stored embryos can be even more complicated than child custody disputes. Judges do not have a lot of past cases to base their decisions on, and there is controversy over the issue of whether IVF consent agreements are legally enforceable. Both parties that sign an IVF agreement will have ownership over the stored embryos, and judges will usually side against a decision that would compel one party to become a parent against their will.

Judges will sometimes look at extenuating circumstances in a dispute over cryogenically stored embryos. For example, if the destruction of embryos would prevent one party from ever becoming a biological parent, a judge may take this fact into account before making a decision. A family law attorney can often provide advice and counsel to an individual who is going through a divorce that involves a dispute over IVF.