A married couple who is having trouble conceiving a child naturally may choose to freeze a number of embryos for future use. However, the question of what should be done with them if the couple divorces is a legally complex one. Even if a couple has a contract spelling out who owns the embryos, it may not help decide a given case.

For example, a Massachusetts court ruled that a man could not be forced to become a parent. Therefore, despite signed contracts that gave his wife ownership of those embryos, she would not legally be able to use them. In many other cases, courts have sided with those who do not want to reproduce through artificial means after a divorce. Another legal issue is whether or not an embryo is considered to be a child or another piece of property.

If an embryo were to be considered a child, a couple may need to go through child custody proceedings to determine who kept the embryos. However, if it were considered another piece of property, it could be divided much like a furniture set or a marital home. In the future, it is possible that embryos could be frozen on their own and sperm frozen on its own. That would allow people to take back reproductive material and use it as they wish in the future.

Fathers who are going through a divorce may wish to talk to an attorney to ascertain their rights. Each spouse may be allowed to have visitation and custody rights if it is in the child’s best interest. Furthermore, custodial parents of either gender may ask for child support if they need financial assistance raising their children. Those who are currently paying child support may also request a modification if necessary.