Remaining Embryos: Planning for the Future

It seems like every few months, another news article is making its way around the internet, covering an all too familiar story. (And no, it is not about coronavirus!) We are talking about the story of the divorcing couple in a bitter dispute because one party wants to grow their family using their remaining frozen embryos and the other does not.

Unfortunately, the burden of infertility sometimes results in a marriage ending in divorce. As the demand for in-vitro fertilization increases, many couples are starting to consider the future and deciding ahead of time what would happen in the event of divorce.

This consideration is not top of mind when families are so focused on having baby; however, having those difficult conversations in the very beginning will help you immensely in the long run. What are some things you should consider?

Who owns the embryos?

Frozen embryos are considered property in the United States. However, many consider their embryos to be more than simply property; the decision is complicated than “who owns the embryos.”

Initially, when creating embryos, most couples have joint ownership unless other-wise stated. When you sign your initial paperwork with the fertility clinic, you choose to designate who will retain ownership in the event of a divorce. You can even choose to maintain the joint ownership. By deciding this right from the start, you may save yourself heartache down the road.

Which disposition option will you choose?

Just as important as deciding who will have ownership of the embryos in the event of divorce is deciding a disposition option. The cost of storage can quickly add up if you do not have a disposition plan for your embryos. If you wait to make this decision, you could add more complication to an already difficult process. If you have ownership, will you transfer the remaining embryos, donate your embryos through your clinic or through an embryo adoption program, donate them to research, or discard the embryos?

Overall, taking the time to have the difficult conversation with your spouse now and plan for the future will be better in the long run. If you would like more information about what happens to remaining embryos you will want to watch our webinar The Benefits of Early Decision Making.

To learn more about embryo donation, visit