A couple heading toward divorce can expect to face many difficult decisions. Among the most common sources of contention between divorcing spouses are decisions about child custody and property division. When both spouses have strong opinions about the issues, negotiations can break down quickly.
Couples who have struggled with infertility may have another issue to deal with that falls between child custody and property division. If you and your spouse created embryos in hopes of having a child, you may be facing some legal conflict if you disagree about the fate of those embryos now that you are going through a divorce.
Embryos an in vitro fertilization
Spouses struggling to conceive often investigate the option of in vitro fertilization. This manner of conception involves harvesting eggs from the woman and fertilizing them in a clinical setting with sperm from the man. The resulting embryos remain in frozen storage until the couple decides to have them implanted in the mother.
If you went through this process and are now facing divorce, you may wonder what to do with the frozen embryos you did not develop to birth.
The new law
In the past, Arizona law sided with the parent who did not want the embryos to survive since that parent would be as legally and financially responsible for any resulting child as the other parent. Recently, however, the law has changed to favor the parent who desires to keep the embryos, allowing the spouse to carry out any intentions of using them to have children. If you want to keep your frozen embryos for future use, you may be relieved to hear this law has passed.
However, if you want the embryos destroyed because you do not want to be burdened with child support payments for a child you did not want, the law protects you, too. If you do not support your ex’s decisions to become a parent, you will have no legal duty to financially support any child that results from the frozen embryos. Additionally, you will have no parental rights regarding the child or obligation to demonstrate interest in the child, such as through visitation plans.
Where do you stand?
As complex as child custody and parental rights issues can be, questions involving the fate of frozen embryos often involve controversial decisions. If you and your spouse cannot reach a settlement on what to do with your frozen embryos, you may wish to seek the assistance of an attorney who knows the changing laws and how they apply to your circumstances.