Today, the definition of “family” is wider-ranging than it’s ever been before. Along with that truth is the connected fact that the issues faced by the courts and couples going through divorce and other family law issues span a broader spectrum than in the past. However, even when facing a very modern set of facts, it is possible that extremely well-worn principles of law may decide the outcome. Even a dispute about frozen embryos may come down to long-decided principles of contract law. To understand the extent of your rights and your options if you encounter a divorce dispute, be sure to contact a knowledgeable New York City divorce attorney about your case.
If you and your spouse decide to utilize assisted reproduction technology, it is extremely important that you understand every part of any agreement you sign regarding the genetic material that may come from that process because, if a dispute should arise between you and your spouse, the courts will look first at what you agreed to do in the signed written document. A case very recently decided by the Appellate Division offers a real-life example of this concept. The case (whose outcome even made the pages of the New York Post) involved Yoram and Bat-El, who married in Israel in late 2011. The husband was in his 50s; the wife was in her 40s. Desiring to have children, they pursued in vitro fertilization in Israel but were unsuccessful.
A few months later, the couple moved to New York and retained the services of a fertility clinic in Manhattan, seeking to become pregnant through the implantation of cryopreserved embryos. The agreement the couple signed with the Manhattan clinic said that both spouses consented to the use of the frozen embryos, and each spouse was free to revoke that consent in the future. After a few more months and several more unsuccessful attempts at IVF, the husband filed for divorce.