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Actress’ embryo dispute spotlights ‘modern’ family law issue (1 of 2)

While fertility advancements have resulted in wonderful outcomes for many families in Ohio and the rest of the country, they have also complicated family law.

For example, Sofia Vergara, who stars in the ABC series "Modern Family," is currently embattled in a dispute with her ex-fiancé over the fate of frozen embryos that the couple created while they were together. 

Vergara is now in a new relationship and reportedly wants the two embryos -- which were conceived through in vitro fertilization using her eggs and her ex-fiancé’s sperm --kept frozen “indefinitely.” Her ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb, has asked the court for custody of the embryos so that he can have them carried to term using a surrogate.

The dispute is not only newsworthy because of the Hollywood actress involved, but also because it highlights a major legal issue that can arise in these modern times, and it is one many family courts aren’t prepared to answer.

Sofia Vergara’s ex had an op-ed published in The New York Times recently addressing the issue, which correctly pointed out that “embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood" as well as fathers' rights.

Loeb wrote that he believes "life begins at fertilization,” which is why he wants the two embryos implanted in a surrogate and carried to term, if possible. He said that he will raise any resulting children himself and will not ask Vergara for financial support.

In an interesting point on fathers' rights, Loeb asked why women should be allowed to carry a child if the biological father objects, while a father “who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities” doesn’t have the same right if the biological mother objects.

Obviously, this is an extremely complex area of family law that involves several conflicting -- and important -- issues. In our next post, we will discuss how the court will likely weigh in.

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