What Happens to Fertilized Frozen Eggs in Pennsylvania When a Couple Divorces?
Couples who use in vitro fertilization in order to have children often go through a lot of pain in order to get their chance to have children. Sometimes, a couple ends up freezing the fertilized eggs for future use, and then gets divorced before using the eggs. What happens to the eggs after the couple’s divorce is a difficult question that is often decided on a case by case basis.
In Pennsylvania, there are various considerations that go into the decision of which spouse gets to keep the eggs after the divorce. In making the decision, the court often has to weigh the competing rights of the spouses. This is because one spouse often wants to keep the eggs in order to use them to have children, while the other wants the eggs in order to ensure that they are not used at all. In these cases, the competing needs of the spouses are therefore best characterized as the right to procreate versus the right not to become a parent against a person’s will.
In one Pennsylvania case, the court was faced with this dilemma. In that case, the husband filed for divorce and sought to keep the wife from using their frozen fertilized eggs to have a baby. The court recognized that the fertilized eggs were marital property, and under Pennsylvania law, were to be equitably distributed to the couple. The wife had undergone treatment for cancer and was told she could not have children by herself, and she alleged that the frozen fertilized eggs were her only chance to have children.
Under the circumstances of the case, the court ultimately decided to award the frozen fertilized eggs to the wife. The court ruled that although ordinarily the husband’s right not to be forced to become a father may outweigh the wife’s right to have children, the facts of the case required the wife to be given a chance to procreate.
Generally, if the spouse who is seeking to keep the frozen fertilized eggs in a divorce is doing so because they represent that spouse’s only chance at reproduction, then the court is likely to give the eggs to that parent. However, if the couple has an agreement in place that dictates what will happen to the eggs in the event of divorce or separation, then the court will likely honor that agreement unless it is found to be against public policy to do so.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
A court will look at the circumstances of a case when deciding which spouse keeps the frozen fertilized eggs in a divorce. It is important to ensure that if you want to keep the eggs, you present your best case before the court. If you are considering filing for divorce, and want to get possession of your eggs, you need to speak to an experienced family law attorney. In addition, before you sign an agreement regarding what will happen to the eggs when you get divorced, you need to speak to an experienced divorce attorney. For a consultation, contact Barbara Flum Stein & Associates in Media, Pennsylvania and serving Delaware County in all family law matters.