Many Arizona readers are familiar with the work of the actress Sophia Vergara, who stars on the hit television show "Modern Family." Vergara has been embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with a former partner over what should be done with embryos that the couple created years ago. While the two were unmarried, the outcome of their current legal battle could set precedent that would affect divorce cases across the country.
The former couple created the embryos during their relationship, in an effort to start a family. However, when the relationship faltered, Vergara sought to block her ex from using the remaining embryos to have a child. At the time the embryos were created, they signed a contract stating that the embryos would not be used without the consent of both parties. Now, Vergara's former partner is fighting for the right to use the embryos to bring a child into the world. The actress stated that she does not wish to be forced into parenthood with her former partner, and prefers that the embryos remain frozen indefinitely.
There are few laws in place that govern the manner in which frozen embryos are handled. In most cases, the courts tend to enforce the contracts signed during reproductive therapy. A notable exception is in cases where one of the prospective parents would be unable to conceive a child through any other means. However, in most cases the courts seem unwilling to force parenthood on an individual who does not wish to become a parent.
As this case moves forward, many in Arizona will continue to follow the matter to its resolution. If Vergara is able to successfully block the use of the embryos, the ruling would be in line with the manner in which many similar cases have been handled. However, if her former partner is able to gain the right to use the embryos, the outcome will be touted as a fathers' rights victory. In either case, the issue is one that will continue to face more and more spouses who seek divorce as reproductive technology continues to advance.
Source: New York Post, "The Sofia Vergara embryo trial could change men's rights forever", Julia Marsh, Sept. 16, 2016