Divorce battle raging in California over frozen embryos

Couples in Orange County have many options when it comes to having children. People may choose to have biological children, they may adopt, they can become foster parents or they may opt to not have children at all. For those who want children but can't have them naturally, there are many options as well, such as using a surrogate or in-vitro fertilization. However, regardless of how a couple becomes parents, there may be the possibility for a child custody dispute.

One technology-aided option is the use of frozen embryos. In some instances, treatments for certain medical conditions, such as cancer, will render a woman infertile. A California woman who had undergone breast cancer treatment utilized frozen embryos five years ago; now, she and her husband are getting a divorce. According to media reports, the pair are fighting over who will get to keep the embryos. Apparently, the husband wants the embryos destroyed while the wife wants the fertilized embryos retained.

The husband argues that the pair had signed a document at a fertility center agreeing the embryos would be destroyed in certain circumstances, including divorce. He also argues that if children resulted from the embryos, it would be difficult for him to parent them since he and the wife cannot have a civil conversation. For their part, the attorneys for the wife argue that destroying the embryos would mean the wife's ability to create the fundamental bond between parent and child would also be destroyed.

A Superior Court judge is expected to issue a ruling on this unique case. As technology continues to advance, there may be many more disagreements in the future regarding the status of biological elements of parenthood. A child custody dispute may arise even before a child exists or while it is still in the womb. Moreover, parents may break up before their plans are realized, leaving their potential parenthood in limbo. An experienced child custody attorney can help parents understand today's laws and their rights in relation to reproductive technology.