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Three common ways to handle embryos in a divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Divorce |

Divorces can be complicated, and adding embryos into the mix can make things even trickier. Here are three common ways that couples in New York typically handle unused fertilized eggs.

Destroy them

One way to settle the embryo question in a divorce is by destroying them. For many people who are separating and don’t want to raise a child together, this solution makes the most sense. However, it can be a gnarly point of contention for estranged couples. That’s why including IVF decisions in a prenup or postnup is wise.

Grant custody to one person

Some partners designate one person as the embryonic custodian, and that person usually decides the fate of unused specimens. Parties who don’t pick a primary parent may encounter difficulties in the event of divorce, especially when one side wants to use the embryos and the other doesn’t. In some situations, parental support issues may come into play. As such, it’s a good idea to discuss myriad what-if scenarios with a partner before embarking on a fertility treatment path.

Donate to research

Donation is another popular option. Increasingly, couples who no longer want to continue with IVF are giving their embryos to science, and those donated stem cells have facilitated several breakthrough discoveries. However, embryonic research is a controversial scientific milieu, so couples need to consider their options carefully if they disagree about whether or where to donate their unused embryos.

During the in vitro fertilization process, the clinic or doctor with whom couples work may have them sign paperwork that includes a clause outlining the embryos’ destiny in case of death or divorce. Depending on the wording, it may or may not be enforceable in a court of law.