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Making decisions about IVF embryos during a divorce

When Virginia couples decide that it is time to start a family, they may turn to in-vitro fertilization in order to conceive children that are biologically related to them. However, IVF can take a long time, and the stress of trying to start a family can potentially cause marriages to fail. In this case, the couple will have to make hard decisions regarding the frozen embryos that were created.

Before the couple begins the process, the storage facility may require the couple to fill out and sign a consent agreement. This agreement authorizes the preservation of the embryos and determines what should happen to them in the event the couple dies or gets a divorce. The options usually include the ability to keep freezing them for later use, donating them to another couple, donating them to science or to simply destroy them.

The law treats frozen embryos as property that belongs to both individuals. As such, when a couple does decide to get a divorce prior to having the embryos implanted, they will have to come to an agreement. This can be difficult if one person wants to have the embryos implanted while the other person no longer wants to become a parent.

If a former couple decides to use the embryos even though they do not intend to stay together, a family law attorney may assist with drafting a child custody and child support agreement. For example, the child custody agreement may give the noncustodial parent the ability to maintain a relationship with the child.

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