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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

More lawsuits as more couples turn to IVF, surrogacy

Thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination and surrogacy, more people than ever are now able to realize their dreams of starting a family.

However, an interesting corollary to this increase in the number of couples utilizing ART has been an increase in the number of lawsuits contesting the ownership -- or possible destruction -- of eggs, sperm and embryos post-breakup. 

Indeed, Hollywood actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiancee are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute in the California court system over frozen embryos the former couple created back in 2013, with the ex-fiancee seeking to prevent their destruction.

This isn't the only noteworthy case over frozen embryos in California, which has rapidly emerged as one of the major forums for ART-related litigation.

This past Monday, arguments began in San Francisco Superior Court between a couple whose only remaining issue before they finalize their divorce is the fate of five frozen embryos.

According to reports, the former couple, a physician wife and her business executive husband, married back in 2010. Prior to the wedding, however, the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Fearing the disease would render her infertile, the couple had five embryos created and frozen at the UC San Francisco Medical Center. Prior to the necessary procedures, the couple signed consent forms dictating that the embryos would be destroyed in the event of a divorce or go to the wife if her husband passed away. These forms also indicated that the terms of the consent forms could only be changed by mutual agreement.

The husband ultimately ended up filing for divorce in 2013 and sought to have the five embryos destroyed. The wife, who did end up infertile, contested this action, saying she wants to use the embryos to have a baby via a surrogate.

Legal experts indicate that the outcome of this particular case is by no means certain and may even result in state lawmakers having to address the enforceability of ART-related consent forms.

Stay tuned for updates on this and other fascinating cases …   

If you have questions or concerns about any child custody-related matter here in Tennessee, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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