Frozen Embryo Law in Texas
For many couples in a variety of situations, assisted reproductive technology has served as a viable method for having children over the last few decades. In vitro fertilization is one of the most common methods of assisted reproductive technology. In vitro fertilization involves a series of procedures in which mature eggs are collected from a female’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory. In many situations, cryopreservation (in which samples are frozen in order to be used at a later date) is used. Sometimes, however, a couple divorces before this frozen sample is used and courts in Texas have begun to answer the question of which party should receive the frozen embryos in the case of a divorce.
Texas Law Regarding Frozen Embryos
Texas law regarding frozen embryos utilizes a contract law approach in determining the ownership of embryos that were frozen prior to the couple’s divorce. Couples who decide to freeze embryos must sign a contract outlining ownership of the embryos in the event of divorce at either the fertility clinic or in the presence of attorney.
This law arises from a case that was was decided by the Texas Court of Appeals. This case involved a couple who divorced before frozen embryos could be used. A contract signed by the couple while providing the frozen embryos dictated that in the event of a divorce, frozen embryos must be discarded. The Court of Appeals subsequently ruled that the terms of the contract must be followed and the frozen embryos must be destroyed.
Controversial Aspects About Frozen Embryos
Couples in Texas who are deciding to use frozen embryos must understand that the process is very controversial in nature for several reasons. For one reason, there are no national laws concerning frozen embryos, which leaves each state to determine how the process will be determined. As a result, there are varying laws about the process in several states. While states like Texas use a contract based approach to determine ownership of frozen embryos, states like Massachusetts apply an approach that forbids any frozen embryo to be used for any reason without the mutual consent of the couple that created the frozen embryo.
It is unknown but possible that at some point the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding frozen embryos.
Advice For Couples Who Decide To Create Frozen Embryos
There are some essential pieces of information that individuals who decide to create frozen embryos should use to minimize the potential for arguments about ownership, which include the following:
- Discuss All Potential Situations With Your Spouse. Prior to creating frozen embryos, make sure to discuss ownership of the frozen embryos in all situations that might unfold including divorce or separation.
- Review The Policies of Fertility Clinics. Couples should make sure to thoroughly research the policies of several fertility clinics to determine how each clinic handles frozen embryo ownership.
- Consult A Seasoned Texas Family Law Attorney. An attorney can help couples decide how frozen embryo ownership should be handled.
How A Texas Family Law Attorney Can Help
When couples decide to freeze embryos, it is important to determine how ownership of the frozen embryos will be decided in the event that the relationship ends. A Houston family law attorney at Conner & Lindamood, P.C. can prove essential in helping to protect a client’s interest.