Divorce and Remaining Embryos

Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce. And with more and more couples using IVF to build their families, there is an increase of divorce settlements and disputes which include remaining embryos.

What happens to these embryos in an event of a divorce? Are they destroyed? Do they go to the party who wishes to use them for family building purposes? At times, divorcing couples have different opinions on what the settlement should be, resulting in dramatic court rulings.

Recently, a law was passed in Arizona stipulating that unless a prior arrangement was made for remaining embryos, the ownership automatically goes to the divorcing party who wishes to use the embryos for family building.

We get it: it is difficult to think about a plan for remaining embryos when you are first starting the IVF process. All you want to think and dream about is holding your new baby in your arms for the first time. Why would anything further down the road even matter at this point? But the unfortunate truth is that stuff happens—divorce, death, you name it. And in the event that you and your partner experience an event like this, what happens to the remaining embryos?

It is important to make a plan for potential remaining embryos in the event they can no longer be used by you for family building in the future.

There are a number of options you could consider when making a plan. If it is mutually agreed upon, one party can take full ownership of the embryos. Both parties may agree the embryos should be discarded. Or, you may wish to place your remaining embryos for adoption.

It is a difficult decision to come to, but in the long run it is better to be prepared for the future.

To learn more about what happens to remaining embryos, watch our webinar The Benefits of Early Decision Making. For more information on embryo adoption and donation, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.