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A state decides that embryos are subject to property division law

There are many areas that divorcing couples may find themselves fighting over. The most likely subjects that spark disputes are child custody and property division. Since California is a community property state, many of these disputes are resolved by the courts.

Recently, lawmakers in one state passed a bill that would dictate that disputes over frozen embryos will be subject to a judge's ruling in much the same way that property division matters are resolved. This law would apply mainly to divorcing couples and will take precedence over any existing agreements whenever spouses are unable to resolve the dispute themselves. Some fear that this measure would override a parent's choice over whether he or she wishes to be a parent.

The law was the result of a dispute between a couple who sought a divorce before they had a chance to decide the fate of their frozen embryos. The wife was of the opinion that a judge would rule that the potential children would be divided between the two of them. Rather, the judge ruled that they would be designated to a third party who would be most likely to ensure they had an opportunity to be born.

There are those who are against this new law, as it would supersede any contracts that the parents had entered into and reduces this important issue to the level of a property division dispute. Others also stated that such a bill allows government intrusion into an intensely private matter. The measure has passed both houses in the Arizona legislature and awaits the governor's signature. California couples who are facing this type of dispute or are struggling to resolve other issues during their divorce process may each seek the input of a seasoned family law attorney in order to obtain the settlement agreement that will best meet their needs.

Source:, "House passes mandate on disputes over embryos", Howard Fischer, March 28, 2018

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