Many people have disregarded the news stories about actress Sophia Vergara and her now ex-fiancé Nick Loeb, whose fight over frozen, implanted embryos has been making headlines. But the issue is actually quite important, especially if you and your spouse are thinking about undergoing, or currently undergoing, the in vitro process.
The whole sad story sums up like this: Ms. Vergara would like to destroy the fertilized embryos being held in storage, now that she and Mr. Loeb are no longer together. Mr. Loeb believes that life begins at fertilization, and therefore would like to raise the children those embryos would grow into on his own.
But who will win such a case? As of now the fertilized embryos cannot be touched, as the contract between Ms. Vergara and Mr. Loeb explicitly states that neither one can destroy the embryos; what it does not say, however, is what should be done if one wishes to move forward. As MSNBC.com reports, multiple states have tried to rule on who gets the embryos in the event of a divorce, only to have those ruling overturned in appellate court.
A dispute with large-scale ramifications
This type of case might seem exceptional, but it is not. As more and more couples are choosing to wait longer to have children – or any myriad reasons – freezing fertilized embryos for later use is becoming a more popular choice. In Ms. Vergara’s and Mr. Loeb’s case, the decision was made to freeze the embryos because, as Ms. Vergara put it, “We just wanted to plan ahead. My boyfriend Nick is three years younger than me and he’s never had a son. I have my son, Manolo, so it’s not that import(ant)… you know, it’s not like an emergency for me to have another kid. For Nick, yes, because he’s never had a baby.” And while the Catholic Church does not approve of in vitro fertilization, other religions may, lending credence to Mr. Loeb’s argument that he cannot see the embryos destroyed for religious reasons.
This is a very tricky area of the law, because the rules governing it are still new. Few rulings have been made, and little precedent set. To that end, it is worth your while to include instructions in the contract with your IVF clinic or in a pre-or post-nuptial agreement about what will happen to fertilized and unused embryos in the event of a break-up between you and your partner.
If it is too late for such actions, it would behoove you to work with a Maryland divorce attorney who has experience in such matters, such as we have. These types of cases require patience, diligence and an in-depth understanding of Maryland’s laws regarding divorce and property assessment.
If you and your former partner are at an impasse over fertility treatments, we invite you to contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC today. We serve divorce clients with complex needs throughout Maryland.