For millions of American couples, getting pregnant is no easy feat. When these couples seek out fertility help, they often end up having to store genetic material for future attempts at becoming pregnant. Couples may store embryos, eggs or certain donor material for use in a future round of fertility treatments. This uniquely valuable property can cause significant headaches for couples who choose to divorce before their genetic material is used.
For example, complex parental rights and support issues can arise if one spouse wishes to use the stored genetic material after the divorce is finalized and the other does not. Especially if the spouse who does not wish to use or have his or her spouse use the material is biologically tied to it, the issue of ownership and use of this property post-divorce can be a uniquely complex issue.
Disputes surrounding fertility challenges during a split have become so prevalent and complex that the law surrounding these situations is continually evolving. In one recent case, a divorced woman who had planned to have a family with her former husband is requesting that he pay for her egg freezing procedure even though they are no longer together. The basic argument behind this case is that failure to have a family when expected may come with a price if a woman’s biological clock advances significantly during a childless marriage.
Each state has a different approach to how divorce or couple-related disputes involving genetic material should be resolved. As a result, it is imperative that couples who have any fertility material stored at the time of divorce or separation consult an experienced local attorney about how to legally navigate this potentially trying situation.
Source: New York Times, “Alimony for Your Eggs,” Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Sep. 6, 2013