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What happens if you divorce with unused IVF embryos in Arizona?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2021 | Divorce |

Expanding your family isn’t always easy. Waiting until later in life or having underlying health issues could make it hard for your family to naturally grow. Turning to medical professionals for help can increase your chances of successfully conceiving.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a rigorous process that allows a couple to have a biological child despite previous issues with conception. By harvesting sperm from the father and eggs from the mother, medical professionals can create fertilized embryos ready for implantation.

The mother undergoes hormonal treatments to increase her chances of successfully carrying those embryos to term. Sadly, both IVF and fertility issues can put strain on a marriage. If you and your ex have tried IVF, what will happen to your embryos if you divorce?

You may already have an agreement about what to do with your embryos

Most ethical medical professionals are upfront about the risks and complications involved with IVF, including the potential for the relationship to fall apart after the couple starts treatment. It is common for both parties involved in IVF to have to sign a binding contract.

Couples often agree to one of three standard arrangements. The couple can choose to donate unused embryos to another couple. They may also agree to the destruction of unused embryos. Finally, in some cases, the couple will agree that IVF treatments will proceed regardless of the status of their marriage.

Generally speaking, if you already have a contract, that will dictate what happens. When you don’t have a contract or one of you chooses to fight it, the Arizona family courts may get involved.

There is state Supreme Court precedent on embryo issues

Although the law around IVF is still a developing area, there have been several noteworthy rulings in Arizona and in other states. In 2020, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed the decision of a lower court regarding the remaining embryos from a divorcing couple.

The lower court had previously awarded the embryos to the mother, but the father appealed the ruling. The Supreme Court upheld their original contract which required that both parents approve of the use of the embryos in the future. They ordered the mother to donate the embryos because the father did not consent to her using the embryos after the end of their relationship.

IVF and other unique concerns can complicate your Arizona divorce. Understanding the law and your right will make it easier for you to fight for what is fair in your divorce.