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Deciding ownership of embryos in divorce

Getting a divorce can be complicated when children are involved. However, there may be several different outcomes for embryos that have been frozen but not yet implanted that belong to Ohio couples who have broken up. In some cases, they may be destroyed, donated for medical research purposes or kept frozen for the time being.

Unfortunately, there is little case law as it relates to couples who have gotten divorced. Therefore, there may be little to no guidance as to how such a case should be resolved. As a general rule, embryos created while a couple is married belong to both parties to the marriage. However, if a single woman creates an embryo with sperm from a donor, that donor has no rights to the embryo.

Courts tend to believe that no one should be forced to become a parent against his or her will. They also tend to believe that embryos shouldn't be destroyed if it may prevent a person from becoming a biological parent in the future. Typically, cryogenic facilities will store embryos indefinitely assuming that storage fees are paid, which can be as high as $1,000 per year depending on where they are stored.

If an individual is going through the divorce process, he or she may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to explain the property division process and how certain assets may be split. In the event that a couple had embryos frozen while married, legal counsel may want to help negotiate a reasonable settlement agreement that accounts for the wishes of both parties.

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