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Should frozen embryos be considered in property division process?

| Oct 31, 2019 | Property Division |

For many couples in Illinois and across the country, having children is something that is extremely important. Unfortunately for some couples, it may not come easily. As such, they often seek out advances in medical technology to help them conceive, such as in vitro fertilization. As part of this, many couples opt to freeze fertilized eggs for future use, which can create complicated questions during a divorce. Some believe that the question regarding the fate of these embryos falls under property division procedures.

A recent ruling in another state may help guide judges across the country as they face questions regarding frozen embryos following a divorce. The case involved a couple who signed a contract agreeing that any remaining embryos would be destroyed if their relationship ended in divorce. However, the man claims he experienced a change of heart during divorce proceedings, saying that he wanted to either keep them in the event he and his now ex-wife decided to reconcile or donate them to another couple.

A judge ultimately ruled that the contract was invalid but awarded the embryos to the woman after finding that she had the stronger claim to them. The man appealed to the state Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned the lower court’s decisions, arguing that the contract was, in fact, enforceable. However, the court says that the decision only deals with cases when there is a contract in place; questions regarding the fate of embryos in the absence of such an agreement have still not been addressed.

For many couples, the divorce process, including those involving property division or final outcome for frozen embryos, can be complicated. Even when both parties are willing to compromise, people in Illinois who have decided to end their marriage still want an experienced professional on their side as they make the decisions that will likely impact the rest of their lives. With such help, they are often better able to carefully and objectively consider their options.