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In divorce, what happens to any frozen embryos?

Many couples decide to pursue in vitro fertilization where they create an embryo, freeze it and wait to implant until the couple is ready. It can be years until the couple decides to pursue implantation, and during that time, it is entirely possible that the married couple will end up divorcing. This leads to a big question legal professionals are still trying to figure out: What happens to the frozen embryos?

This is somewhat uncharted territory, but it has become a legitimate concern for many couples divorcing in Florida in recent years. Legal professionals still have much to ponder when it comes to custody of unborn children, but there are factors the parents should consider.

Sign a consent agreement at the time of IVF

Many IVF storage facilities require both parties to sign a consent agreement. This document covers a lot of ground, and one component will be what will happen to the embryos in the event that one person dies or the couple separates before implantation. Couples have a choice in what they do with the embryos, such as destroying them, donating them for medical research or donating them to another couple. 

However, many couples fail to sign one of these agreements because they are in a hurry to begin IVF. While no one wants to think of death or separation when it comes to creating life, it is a crucial step to ensure the law follows your wishes in the event of divorce. 

Continue storing the embryos

Courts will not force one spouse to become a parent against his or her will. Additionally, the court will likely not order to destroy the embryos because in some cases, it may be the only way for one spouse to have a child biologically. During the divorce proceedings, the couple needs to continue paying for the storage fees, which can cost upwards of $1,000 annually. Without those payments, it is likely that the facility will merely destroy the embryos without the couple knowing.

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Schipani and Norman, P.A.
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Sarasota, FL 34236

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