What happens to frozen embryos in a divorce?

Reproductive experts around the U.S. estimate that hundreds of thousands of embryos are being stored in fertility clinics around the country, according to a recent article in Parenting magazine. Modern science has given hope to people struggling to naturally conceive by taking sperm and an egg and producing embryos that ultimately mean more chances for children.

But what happens when a couple with embryos cryogenically frozen in a lab decide to part ways?

The first U.S. case to consider frozen embryos in a divorce was nearly 20 years ago, in Davis v. Davis in Tennessee, Divorce Source reports. The wife had wanted to donate the frozen embryos to a childless couple, but the husband wanted them destroyed. The trial court ruled that the embryos are essentially children and awarded them to the wife, according to the website. The Tennessee Supreme Court held, however, that embryos are neither property nor children, but instead a unique entity with aspects of both categories.

The higher court ultimately ruled in favor of the husband, establishing a framework for resolving similar disputes across the country. In the Davis case, the court held that since the husband’s decision not to have children was constitutionally protected, the embryos should be destroyed.

Nearly 20 years later, courts across the country appear to follow the Davis ruling. A San Francisco judge ruled in November 2015 that frozen embryos a woman wanted to use to have children over her ex-husband’s protests would be destroyed. The husband had claimed that the marriage and subsequent divorce had been bitter at best, and because of that he didn’t want to be tied to his ex-wife by having a child with her. The woman, however, had said she feared the embryos were her only chance at having a child, since she had battled breast cancer and was 46 years old.

The couple had signed a form provided by their fertility clinic agreeing that the embryos would be destroyed if they ever divorced. The San Francisco judge ruled that the consent agreement was a binding contract. The judge also decided that the woman might still have a child on her own, and that her effort to have children with her ex-husband might be an attempt to secure child support from him.

The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.

Contact one of the DiPietro family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (703) 370 – 5555, or visit us online.

ARTICLE: 3 of 10 DATE: Nov. 15, 2016

WRITER: Maggie O’Brien CLIENT: Joseph DiPietro

TITLE: Can I lose my job for getting divorced?

KEYWORDS: Workplace discrimination, divorce law, Virginia divorce lawyer, fired for getting divorce, family law

It can be hurtful to notice a little hint of judgement flash across some people’s faces when you tell them you’re going through a tough divorce. Those feelings and worries likely will pass sooner rather than later, thankfully.

But what happens if you’re judged so harshly at work that it ends up threatening your job? Can someone get fired for getting divorced in Virginia?

They can’t. Federal law protects all employees from discrimination based on a handful of factors, including race, sex, religion, disability and genetic information. Enforced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers with at least 15 to 20 employees must comply with the law.

Virginia law protects employees from discrimination to comply with federal law. But the state takes it a step further by also banning discrimination based on marital status. Employers with at least six employees are subject to Virginia’s state laws that prohibit discrimination, according to the state Attorney General’s Office division of human rights.

A judge in New Jersey this summer ruled in favor of a man who sued his former employer for wrongful discrimination for being fired after he told his supervisor about his upcoming divorce.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the plaintiff informed his boss at the nonprofit he worked for that he was having an affair with one of the group’s volunteers. He also mentioned that he was separated and in the process of getting divorced, the newspaper reported.

The Journal reported that the supervisor was fearful of an “ugly divorce,” and had cited “corporate restructuring” and plaintiff’s poor job performance as grounds for the termination. The plaintiff believed that he was fired because of his marital status.

The case went to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which concluded that the man was protected by New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits an employer from “imposing conditions of employment that have no relationship to the tasks assigned to and expected of an employee.” The state, the justices held, bars employers from discriminating against employees as well as job applicants because they are single, married or “transitioning from one state to another,” the Journal reported.

The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.

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