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How are frozen embryos treated during divorce property division?

Massachusetts couples who are working through a divorce will have numerous decisions to make in order to come to a fair settlement. Property division can be draining, especially if the items being fought over are somewhat out of the norm. A case that is currently underway on the opposite side of the country is one of these situations, as frozen embryos are the “property” in question. Fertility issues are a very sensitive subject, and determining how one’s chance at having children is to be treated because a marriage is ending can be, understandably, difficult.

While this case is not the first of its kind, it goes beyond a woman’s desire to simply have children. The wife in this particular case was diagnosed with cancer, and she and her husband decided to freeze embryos in the event that fighting the disease would leave her incapable of conceiving down the line. After successfully fighting the cancer, she was left infertile, but the marriage headed for divorce before she had the chance to have any of the embryos implanted. She is now asking that she be given the embryos as part of the divorce settlement, but this is not a request with which her soon-to-be ex agrees.

The husband would like to ensure the embryos are destroyed. A contract was signed by both parties to do just that at the time the embryos were frozen. The wife in this case, though, is now claiming that these embryos are her only chance at having her own children.

This is not going to be an easy case for a court to decide, as it is essentially asking whose rights are to be given priority. It will be one that is interesting to watch, however, as the results may help others in similar circumstances. Situations like this can make finalizing property division and, ultimately, a divorce longer than usual, but each party does have the right to fight for what he or she feels is important. At the end of the day, arguments can be made that support each side of this issue. With assistance, divorcing couples in Massachusetts can resolve such an issue as quickly as possible in order to swiftly conclude the marriage dissolution.

Source: NBC News, “San Francisco Couple in Bitter Divorce Battle Over Frozen Embryos“, Emil Guillermo, July 16, 2015

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