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New legal divorce battles emerge over embryos

Every day, Houston couples make the decision to divorce and are faced with a myriad of decisions related to property division, child custody, spousal support and more. Many such decisions are clearly defined by law which can help guide people through the divorce process to some degree, despite the high emotions that naturally tend to be involved.

New situations in today’s society are raising some new divorce legal issues and forcing courts around the country to face new decisions. One issue at hand is how to account for frozen embryos in a divorce. Some states consider them a factor in basic property division while in at least one other state, a father is facing back child support for a child born to his ex-wife from embryos fertilized during their marriage. Making this case even more complex is the fact that it is the state that is trying to secure the support from the father because the mother, despite giving up her right to support, had received welfare assistance.

In yet another case, a father is disputing his ex-wife’s ownership of embryos as a violation of his right to decide whether or not he would want to have any further children. In New Jersey, a 38-year old woman concerned with her ability to have children later on due to her age is petitioning for the costs to harvest and freeze her eggs to be included in her divorce settlement.

Issues such as these can result in a complex legal and ethical dispute that is not always easily solved. Unusual circumstances arise frequently in divorce situations and highlight how working with an experienced attorney may be helpful to spouses going through a divorce.

Source: The Washington Times, “Are unborn children people or property in a divorce, and who decides?,” Myra Fleischer, September 19, 2013

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