St. Louis woman seeks ‘custody’ of frozen embryos after divorce

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Monday, January 4, 2016.

Many divorces require the spouses or the judge to determine child custody. Much less common is a legal determination about what to do about embryos. But with alternative forms of conception becoming increasingly popular, perhaps it was inevitable that such a case arise in Missouri.

As WFMY-TV reports, the case pits two St. Louis County parents and former spouses against each other. The mother used in vitro fertilization to give birth to twin sons in 2014. The process created two additional embryos made from the mother’s eggs and the father’s sperm.

Those embryos are currently frozen and could be used to produce more children. The mother wants to use the embryos, but the father has objected.

The dispute went to trial in 2014, and last year the judge ruled that the exes jointly own the embryos. This means that neither party can do anything to the embryos — essentially, either use them to get pregnant or have them destroyed — without the other ex’s written permission.

The mother appealed, saying that her ex-husband should have to abide by an agreement they signed when the embryos were created. She says that in that document, her ex agreed that in the event of divorce, she would gain sole ownership of the embryos.

Some readers may be wondering at this point why the woman would want her ex-husband, with whom she went through a “very acrimonious” divorce, to be the father of her future children. “It’s not about him. It’s about them,” she said, referring to the embryos.

If the Missouri Court of Appeals rules in the mother’s favor, it remains to be seen if the father will appeal to the state Supreme Court, or ask for custody rights if the embryos result in children being born.

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