Lisa L. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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Frozen embryos remain a complex part of property division

Many Kentucky couples who want to wait to have children or who cannot have children "the old fashioned way" freeze embryos for later use. If they remain married, they may use them when they are ready to become parents. If they divorce, the ownership of those embryos becomes a complex part of property division.

Courts across the country remain inconsistent with rulings regarding the fate of frozen embryos. However, the majority at this point sides with the party who wants to destroy them. This is mainly because of the prevailing theory that no one should have to become a parent is he or she does not want to do so.

In contrast to this theory, a law passed by the Arizona legislature recently went into effect. It allows the party who wants to use the embryos to do so. The other party is released from all parental rights and responsibilities, including child support, if a child results from the use of the frozen embryos. Whether this new law stands up to court scrutiny remains to be seen. Other states may be waiting to see how it is tested in the courts before considering making such a change.

In the meantime, Kentucky couples who need to determine the disposition of frozen embryos during the property division phase may come to their own agreement. If both parties agree that they may be used, the court may approve that agreement. Otherwise, barring extenuating circumstances, the court may not impose parenthood on someone who has no desire to have a child with an ex-spouse post-divorce.

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