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What happens to IVF embryos in a divorce?

When Texas parents divorce, there are clear guidelines in place to help determine who gets custody of the children and how much child support should be paid. However, another issue could arise if an estranged couple has unborn frozen embryos in storage. The matter could be complicated if the proper legal steps aren't taken.

Most couples who create embryos through in-vitro fertilization are not focused on what will happen to them in the event of divorce or death. Most IVF storage facilities require that prospective parents sign a consent agreement allowing the preservation of the embryos through cryogenic storage. Often, these contracts allow couples to say if they want the embryos preserved, donated or destroyed if they break up or one of them dies. However, there is controversy over whether IVF contracts are legally enforceable. Further, there is little case law currently available to guide courts when disputes over frozen embryos arise.

While frozen embryos are considered personal property under the law, courts have been reluctant to compel a person to become a parent against his or her will, as there are lifelong financial and emotional issues at stake. The cases that go to court often take years to resolve. Therefore, observers say it is critical for couples considering IVF to discuss in detail what will happen to the embryos in the event of divorce or death.

Their decisions should then be drawn up in a legal document. This is a relatively uncommon divorce legal issue. It might be prudent for people who are considering IVF to discuss these matters with their attorneys.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In The Event Of A Divorce, Who Keeps The Embryos Created From IVF?", Vikki Ziegler, Feb. 8, 2017

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