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Court mulls what happens to embryos after divorce

For centuries, couples who were unable to conceive on their own were with few options. However, medical discoveries made during the last several decades now allow more options for couples in Virginia and across the country struggling to conceive. Unfortunately, family law is now left trying to keep pace with these advancements. In fact, a court in another state is now considering what happens to frozen embryos in the event of a divorce, and the couple is unable to come to an agreement regarding the embryos' fate.

The case involves a man and woman who married in 2011. Shortly after their marriage, they created two embryos; they used one of them to have a daughter. At the time, they signed an agreement that they would discard any remaining embryos should their marriage end in divorce.

However, the man reportedly changed his mind after signing the agreement; instead of discarding the remaining embryo, he would like to preserve it to either use it or place it for adoption. A trial court originally ruled in favor of the woman. Though it ruled that the original agreement was unenforceable, the court balanced the interest of both the man and the woman. Often, in cases such as this, the court will consider whether the embryo is the only option for the party in favor of preservation to have biological children; as the man in this case has several biological children, it was not a factor. The man appealed the decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The court's decision in this case could set a precedent that will guide the outcomes of other similar cases. Several other states have also grappled with these decisions with some even adopting new laws to address them. An attorney with experience with such cases in Virginia can help those going through a divorce fight to protect their interests, potentially including what will happen to any frozen embryos created by the couple.

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