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Custody of frozen embryos at center of dispute

The typical child custody dispute usually deals with a couple and their children, but a recent case coming out of Maryland may interest Las Vegas readers due to its unusual circumstances.

Instead of a fight over existing children, this child custody case centers on future children. In this case, a couple used in vitro fertilization to conceive their daughter, who is now 3 years old. The couple reportedly could not conceive naturally due to the woman having an ovarian cyst.

Once the split came, the judge in the case granted custody of the daughter to the man. The leftover embryos went to the woman. The ex-wife reportedly plans to use the nine leftover embryos to have more children, and that’s where the dispute comes in.

According to the man’s attorney, allowing the woman to use the embryos forces the man to become a parent against his will. Legal professionals say this is a case that needs to consider the legal issues while also focusing on the moral issues at hand.

A circuit court issued a stay until Feb. 9 in order to give the man a chance to appeal the ruling. He is expected to do so.

The case could reportedly go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling in this matter, especially by a higher court, could set a precedent for future family law cases across the country. Although most child custody issues are not this complex, it is important to consider all ramifications of a possible child custody arrangement before agreeing to one. Being able to address a range of sensitive issues within a family can bring a custody outcome that works for all those involved.

Source: NBC Washington, “Judge Grants Stay in Divorced Couple’s Battle Over Embryos,” Tracee Wilkins, Jan. 14, 2013

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