The fate of unused embryos after a divorce

Many couples, especially when faced with cancer during the reproductive age, have turned to banking embryos, according to the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University. This assisted reproductive technology can be a complicated procedure, matching an egg with the best possible sperm. The legal implications are also numerous in the process.

However, these complications are increased when a divorce takes place. If a couple has stored unused embryos, but has since decided to separate, both parties must figure out what to do with them. Challenges can arise if one partner still wants the possibility to use these embryos, while the other partner does not, especially if the divorce dissolves into a vicious battle.

“How can they decide together what will happen to their embryos if they can’t even decide who gets custody of the patio furniture?” the consortium’s website ponders.

According to a study by the University of Houston Law Center, the issue of frozen embryos upon divorce has only been handled by a few state high courts. In the case of Randy M. Roman v. Augusta N. Roman, the woman was granted possession and use of the embryos, but the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas reversed the lower court’s decision.