When a couple decides to create embryos, divorce is generally the last thing on their minds. It is probably safe to say that most couples considering in vitro fertilization are, instead, both nervous and excited about the possibility of conceiving children at some point in the future. However, the reality is that couples who fail to consider and legally document their agreement about what should happen to remaining embryos in the event of a future breakup could find themselves in a custody dispute over those embryos. In fact, even when couples do agree and sign paperwork, disputes can arise years later. After all, there are a lot of forms and documents to complete as part of the process.
A gay married couple in Virginia signed a form at the fertility clinic they used, agreeing that 44-year-old Peter Goldin would retain sole control over their remaining embryo in the event of a future split, because the embryo was created using his sperm. When the couple separated last year though, Mr. Goldin’s spouse had forgotten what he’d signed years earlier and no longer wanted his husband to have authority to decide what happened to the remaining embryo. A legal dispute ensued, with Mr. Goldin ultimately prevailing.
This type of dispute can impact anyone, from the couple next door to well-known celebrities. In a recent blog post, we shared the public embryo battle ultimately won by Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara and her former fiancé, Nick Loeb. With increases in recent years in people using IVF to start or add to their families, the number of this type of dispute over frozen genetic material is likely to continue rising.
Before signing any type of agreement or other document dealing with how disposition over frozen embryos or other genetic material will be handled, it is important to fully understand the potential consequences of your choices. An experienced assisted reproduction attorney can help you evaluate your options, protecting you and your spouse or partner in the process. To learn more, contact The Surrogacy Law Center today!