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What options are available for embryos in a divorce

As many Texas couples know, family planning can sometimes become challenging when issues with fertility exist. To confront this issue, some turn to in vitro fertilization in an attempt to become parents. However, there instances where the couple decides to part ways after the embryos have been frozen but not yet implanted in the mother. In those cases, the questions arise about who the embryos belong to and what can be done with them. These are difficult questions to face, and to answer them, some couples might even end up having to go to court.

Frozen embryos are generally considered personal property by law, which means they do not have the same protections as children do in their parents' divorce proceedings. Fertility clinics ask couples to sign releases that establish what to do with unused embryos if the relationship ends or the couple dies, but it is unclear how binding these documents are.

Couples have a choice to donate the embryo to a different person, to destroy the embryos or to continue storing the embryos. At the end of a marriage, the decision might become more difficult, particularly if one person wants to use the embryos and the other person wants them destroyed.

Generally, courts will not force one of the parties to become a parent when it comes to IVF after the divorce has taken place. But in an increasing number of cases, courts will take into consideration if the embryos are the only and last way for a person to have a child biologically. Disputes over embryos can last many years, and the couple must continue to pay the fees to maintain the embryos correctly frozen and stored. People who are in this type of a situation may want to have legal guidance when considering how to proceed.

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