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Could another state’s law set a new precedent in divorce?

Jul 24, 2018 | Child Custody & Support, Firm News

When creating and freezing embryos, West Virginia couples typically create an agreement about how they will handle unforeseen incidents, such as the ending of their marriage or a sudden death. However, a new out-of-state law appears to supersede those agreements. Determining how to handle frozen embryos during a divorce has long been a difficult issue in family law, and this new law could potentially set a precedent in divorce  that other states may follow.

Couples freeze embryos for any number of reasons. Perhaps they are both focused on their careers or are struggling to conceive, but the main goal is usually always the same — to produce a child. However, couples can agree that if they divorce that they will destroy the embryos or that one or both parties may still use them at any time. For couples in a different state, this decision may be out of their hands.

Even with an agreement stating that embryos will be destroyed in the even of a divorce, the Arizona law will allow one person to maintain ownership of them if he or she wishes to have a child. This is the case even if the ex does not want any children, and the embryos were created using their genetic material. Proponents of the law are pleased with the outcome, saying it gives everyone the opportunity to eventually become a parent. Opponents point out it removes the choice for others.

Creating and freezing embryos is still a relatively new technological advancement. West Virginia family law sometimes takes time to catch up with new technologies, societal standards and issues, which makes handling these types of matters difficult. When faced with issues in divorce for which there are not clear-cut precedents, it is often advisable for individuals to seek the guidance of an experienced family law counsel.