Las Vegas, NV- The fate of five frozen embryos is at the center of an acrimonious divorce trial which got underway this week and could impact future decisions in similar cases.
Five years ago, Dr. Mimi Lee, an anesthesiologist married Stephen Findley, a well-off executive. Prior to their marriage, Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer which made her infertile so the couple decided to undergo fertility treatments and stored five frozen embryos, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After storing the embryos, the couple discussed the possibility of surrogacy, but the Findley was reluctant, because his marriage was on shaky ground.
Just three years into the marriage, the couple divorce and were enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce primarily over finances. Now the fight over the frozen embryos represents the final stage of their divorce and it doesn’t appear as though there will be a swift resolution.
When the couple began infertility treatments they signed a consent agreement in which both parties agreed that if they divorced the embryos would be destroyed. Findley wants the embryos destroyed, even going so far as too accuse Lee of using the embryos as a ploy to get more money from him via child custody payments.
But Lee, fearing the embryos are her last chance at having a biological child, wants to pursue surrogacy and agreed to sign a waiver absolving her former husband of any financial responsibility of the child. Her divorce attorney said she was not thinking clearly when she signed the consent agreement and assumed it was not legally binding, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Generally these cases as decided in favor of the spouse who wishes to avoid reproduction and generally results in the embryos being destroyed. However, there have been past instances in which such cases have been decided in favor of the woman on the basis that reproduction is a woman’s basic right.
How the court decides in this case will likely have an impact on the how custody cases, involving frozen embryos, in Nevada and the country as a whole are decided.
This case demonstrates the thorny issues that can arise when a couple who undergoes fertility treatment and later divorce. Couples are unlikely to consider the implications of fertility treatments or surrogacy in the event of their divorce; they are so focused on the rosier side of having a child. Couples who are considering fertility treatments to conceive a child are urged to speak with a family law attorney near them in Nevada to go over the child custody issues they might encounter in the future.
Figuring out a child custody agreement is complicated enough, but it gets even more complicated when it comes to frozen embryos. No matter how impossible your custody case seems to be, one of the practiced child custody attorneys at USAttorneys can help. A lawyer who understands the state’s child custody laws can answer your questions and give you an understanding of the how the process works.