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Do in vitro fertilization consent forms hold up in court?

It isn't difficult to see how rapid technological advancement becomes woven into the social fabric of daily life, but we have to admit that sometimes the law is slow to catch up, perhaps especially in family law.

For example, family law judges continue to grapple with difficult questions related to the decision to create and freeze embryos in preparation for giving birth. Specifically, which party -- the woman or the man -- retains control over what should be done with the embryos in the event that the couple splits up?

Typically, when a couple goes to a clinic for in vitro fertilization, each party signs a consent form clarifying what should be done with the embryos if the couple separates or divorces. In some cases, the parties agree that the embryos should be destroyed in the event of divorce, and in other cases, the parties agree that the woman should retain control over the embryos no matter what.

However, a judge is likely to be reluctant to force a man into parenthood, even if he has signed a consent form giving the woman control over embryos he helped create. In one such case, a man signed a consent form, but after he and the woman separated, he said that he no longer wanted to procreate, and the judge ruled in his favor, saying it would be a violation of public policy to force the man into parenthood.

In another case, however, a 46-year-old woman is asking a judge to rule in her favor -- so that she can keep embryos she created with her ex-husband -- because she has no other option for having a biologically related child.

That particular case is ongoing.

The reality is that every family law case is unique. To help ensure a favorable outcome in your case, work with family law attorney who will listen to your concerns and develop a comprehensive strategy that protects your rights and those of your family.

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