The New York Times recently reported about a N.J. woman who, as part of her divorce settlement, wants her soon-to-be ex-husband to cover the cost of having her eggs frozen and stored for later fertilization.
As the trend of more and more couples either waiting to start families (or finding the need to go through fertility treatments) continues, this scenario may become more and more common in divorce courts throughout the country.
The case involves a 38-year old woman who is divorcing her husband of eight years. The couple has no children, but had planned on starting a family “someday”. But now, with the divorce pending, the woman’s biological clock is ticking and her fear is that she may lose her window of fertility before finding another partner. So she is requesting that husband pay for an egg-freezing procedure, medication and several years of egg storage – at a cost of $20,000.
The couple had gone through several failed attempts at in vitro fertilization. The wife’s attorney claims that since these fertility treatments were part of the marriage, they should be included as part of the “marital lifestyle”.
So a woman’s eggs could now become part of the marital estate – like property and pension plans.
There is no case law regarding the request. In some situations, courts have awarded custody of already existing fertilized eggs to a woman. But there has never been a case where a woman has been awarded funds to freeze future eggs.
Some legal experts point out that this type of award could be compared to a woman who makes “sacrifices” in the marriage – putting her spouse through school, putting her career on hold to raise a family, etc. – for which she should be compensated.
Critics say that awarding a settlement to create and store fertilized eggs is akin to awarding money for a face-lift or breast augmentation. They ask what’s to stop a woman from arguing that she “used up her youth” in the marriage.
There can be many unforeseen legal issues that come up during a divorce. That’s why a person should never represent themselves. Contact an experienced Illinois family lawyer today if you are considering filing for divorce.