Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Family law: Fate of embryos following divorce determined

Couples in New Jersey who decide to marry often have a variety of different plans for the future. For many, this includes whether they will have children. In the past, couples who were unable to conceive had few options for becoming parents, but advances in medical technology have created more. As a result, however, courts of family law are facing decisions during divorce cases that are receiving a great deal of attention.

Specifically, courts are being tasked to determine the fate of frozen embryos following the end of a marriage. In fact, the Supreme Court in another state has recently ruled on such an issue. In the case, a couple created embryos, signing a contract at the time indicating that the embryos would be destroyed in the event of a divorce.

However, the husband indicated during divorce proceedings that he had experienced a change of heart and, instead, wanted to preserve them or donate them to another couple. Though a lower court ruled that their contract was unenforceable, the judge awarded the embryos to the woman, arguing that she had a stronger claim. The man appealed the decision, and the Connecticut Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous ruling stating that the contract was, in fact, enforceable. The ruling did not include the fate of embryos in the absence of such a contract.

Many in New Jersey who have gone through the divorce process would agree that the decision to end their marriage was in the best interests of all involved. However, even for couples going through a relatively amicable divorce, questions often arise that must be addressed by a judge. Having an attorney with experience with family law to provide guidance -- including advice on how to appeal a decision believed to have been made in error -- can help those in such a situation has they navigate the court system.

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