The first successful use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1978 was a pivotal moment for women struggling with infertility. Because of this momentous scientific development, couples who experience difficulties with conception now have the option to utilize IVF in hopes of birthing a child.
During the IVF process, sperm is used to fertilize eggs taken from inside of a woman's body, and then implanted back into the uterus to initiate a pregnancy. It's common for eggs to be fertilized and subsequently frozen for a while until the couple decides to use them.
Although IVF has been put into practice for over 30 years in the U.S., New Jersey legislators, as well as lawmakers in other states, have yet to come up with legislation that directly addresses the unique issues this process rears in child custody cases. What happens when couples have undergone this process, have frozen eggs, but ultimately end up splitting? We'll discuss the specifics.
What is IVF?
IVF is a process in which participants undergo medical treatment and surgical procedures to fertilize an egg outside of the body, and then implant that egg into the uterus. Medication matures the eggs and prepares them for fertilization. Once they're ready, the doctor will take them out of a participant's body and mix them with sperm in a laboratory to prompt fertilization. Next, one or more fertilized eggs, known as “embryos,” will be implanted directly into the participant's uterus. Pregnancy occurs when any of the embryos stick to the lining of the uterus.
IVF has a plethora of steps, as it takes several months to a year to complete the entire process. It could work on the first round or it may take several rounds for a woman to get pregnant. Regardless, this reproductive method does increase a participant's chances of pregnancy.
Hundreds of U.S. clinics perform thousands of IVF procedures each year. Approximately 50,000 IVF babies have been conceived since reproductive technology's conception.
How Does IVF Affect Child Custody
One of the most pressing IVF concerns for divorcing or splitting couples is who will become the owner of previously frozen embryos. If one partner decides to implant the egg without the other partner's consent, the other person will be forced into a parental situation against their will. On the other hand, one partner's choice to destroy an embryo could ruin the only chance the other partner had to be a parent.
While the majority of IVF facilities do encourage couples to enter contracts to prevent impending disposal and preservation issues, these contracts are not always recognized by the courts.
Another concern for splitting or divorcing couples who've undergone IVF is the categorization of embryos. The matter of whether embryos should be dealt with as property or children has long been in question.
The only way to make sure you have options in the event you and your partner split, would be to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable of this unique sector of law. A legal professional can identify all the possible legal outcomes of entering an IVF contract before you undergo any procedures.
New Jersey Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about IVF and how it'll impact your New Jersey child custody case, contact the Lento Law Firm today. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has insight as to how New Jersey courts factor IVF into proceedings and will work hard to ensure your parental rights are protected. For a consultation, contact our firm online or by phone at 888-535-3686 today.