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Court must decide fate of embryos following couple's divorce

When a couple in New Hampshire chooses to end their marriage, there are multiple decisions that must be made. In addition to property division, child support and custody decisions must be made if there are children. While these decisions are typically relatively straightforward, certain advances in medical technology are complicating some divorce decisions. For example, one out-of-state couple is still struggling to decide the fate of their frozen embryos. Their case has recently been heard by their state's Supreme Court.

The couple went through in-vitro fertilization in 2007 and had twin sons together. Two remaining embryos were frozen. When the couple separated in 2010, they reportedly agreed that the wife would be given the embryos in the event of a divorce. However, the husband changed his mind.

A family court commissioner ruled in 2015 that the embryos were considered a special type of marital property. As such, the man and woman were both be given custody of them -- nothing can be done with them without the permission of the other. The woman wants to have them implanted while the husband states that he does not want any more children with her, but he has said that he would agree to donating them for research or an infertile couple or destroying them. The woman appealed the decision, and the case has recently been heard by the Missouri State Court of Appeals. While the woman's supporters argue that allowing her to implant the embryos would not violate the man's right to not reproduce because procreation occurred at fertilization, the man's supporters argue that a ruling in his ex-wife's favor would change how every embryo is viewed and treated.

While divorce proceedings for many couples in New Hampshire can be relatively textbook, there are many complex situations that require special consideration. In almost all cases where two people are attempting to divide their lives, having an experienced attorney can help ensure that a person's voice is heard and not overlooked. Despite the sometimes complicated process, the decision to end a marriage is often the best one for all parties involved.

Source:, "Missouri State Appeals Court to Decide Fate of Divorced Couple's Frozen Embryos", Rachel Hoover, June 3, 2016

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