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New York divorce dispute: who gets the frozen embryos?

On the West Coast, an interesting divorce case is currently underway, and the “property” being fought over is something that is not often reported. A divorce dispute can occur for anything, really. In this particular case, the couple is fighting about frozen embryos, which, of course, brings about a lot of concerns and questions. As using this type of procedure to preserve one’s ability to have children is becoming more widely used, even by many in the State of New York, this case is one that will be interesting to follow.

There have been other cases similar to this involving women who wish to use the frozen embryos after divorce and their former husbands wanting the embryos destroyed. What makes this case somewhat unique from many of the others filed is that the embryos were frozen due to the wife being diagnosed with cancer. Her cancer treatments have left her infertile, and these embryos are considered to be her only ability to have her own child with the help of a surrogate.

The problem in this case has to do with the contract signed between each party at the time the embryos were frozen. Apparently, each spouse signed a contract stating that, in the event of divorce, the embryos were not to be used. The court will have the difficult decision of whose rights outweigh the other: the wife’s right to procreate or the husband who wants the embryos destroyed?

For those in New York in similar circumstances, the outcome of this case could help set a precedent that may or may not help their particular situation. Only time will tell as to how this case is decided, but it is definitely a difficult position for both parties. For couples dealing with this type of divorce dispute, finalizing the dissolution of marriage may take longer than usual. With legal assistance, it is possible to argue either side of this issue in order to resolve the matter in the best possible way and to conclude divorce proceedings in a swift manner.

Source: CBS News, “Frozen embryos at center of nasty divorce in San Francisco”, July 14, 2015

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Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP


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