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Colorado Supreme Court considers frozen embryos in divorce case

The end of a marriage often brings with it some challenging questions to resolve: who gets which assets; how child custody is determined; how much child support and alimony will be paid. However, sometimes divorcing Colorado Springs couples may find themselves in territory where the law itself is unclear, thanks in part to possibilities only recently realized by cutting-edge technology and science.

A couple got married in 2002 in Colorado and became parents to three children. The children were conceived through in vitro fertilization. Six embryos created during the in vitro process remained frozen, but the father felt no desire for more children. The mother, on the other hand, strongly wanted a large family. Their marriage began to deteriorate as they were raising their youngest children, and they went through a bitter divorce.

The mother moved out of state, and while a court awarded her physical custody of the three children, it granted the frozen embryos to the father. Not wanting more children of his own, he wanted the embryos (which had been fertilized with his sperm) destroyed by the fertility clinic. The mother, on the other hand, sees the embryos as her only chance for more children, and has taken legal action to block the clinic from destroying them.

The case is currently being considered by the Colorado Supreme Court, and may even make its way to the Supreme Court. Clearly, strong emotions are felt on both sides: the mother feels the embryos are like the lives of her own children, while the father argues he should not be forced to have more children that he does not want. Similar issues have arisen notably with some celebrity couples in recent years, although the Colorado case has the potential for nationwide ramifications.

We will continue to follow this story on our Colorado Springs family law blog. As more parents make greater use of scientific advancements in assisted reproduction, a legal professional can help advocate for their rights when a dispute enters uncharted legal territory.

Source: The Denver Post, "Colorado Supreme Court to weigh if one parent has the right to use frozen embryos if the other objects," Ariana Eunjung Cha, Jan. 8, 2018

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