Courts Continue to Rule that Embryos Are Property, Not People

Couples who struggle with infertility, or have a history of conditions that could lead to infertility (such as cancer), often have their embryos frozen to ensure they have the ability to have a family later on. What happens, though, if that couple then divorces? What happens to the embryos? Historically, they have been treated as marital property in family court. This trend continues after a recent ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals. The following explores the implications of this ruling.

Why the “Custody” of Embryos is Such a Complex Matter

Much like other pre-birth considerations, those pertaining to embryos are highly complex. On one hand, you have an emotional attachment to the potential child or children that could be born through in vitro fertilization. On the other, you have the legal implications that would be associated with that child.

For example, the biological parent would most likely be obligated to pay child support, possibly for a child that they did not want to be born. Then there is the matter of whether the potential child’s best interest could be protected in a post-divorce, post-birth scenario. All in all, there are many factors and positions to consider, and family court judges must try to rule on the matter the best that they can.

Possible Rulings in a Divorce with Embryos

In the past, and currently, the courts have considered embryos property, not people. Yet, unlike other assets in divorce, they cannot necessarily be distributed to one party or the other. As such, judges may rule that the embryos be destroyed. Alternatively, it may be ruled that the embryos can remain frozen, but that one potential parent cannot use them unless they obtain permission from the other. Essentially, this would be considered a sort of “joint custody” of the embryos. Of course, if one party does agree to let the other use the embryos, that would raise a number of other potential issues – namely the concern over the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support.

Contact Our Naperville Family Law Attorneys

At Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., we recognize the sensitive nature of divorce and the fate of your embryos. Dedicated and experienced, we will handle your case with the utmost care and respect. We will protect your rights, every step of the way, and we will and pursue the most favorable outcome possible in your case. Schedule your consultation with our Naperville family law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-7676 today.