Understanding the Florida Statute on Embryo Disposition Post-Divorce
In the event of a divorce, the question of what happens to frozen embryos can become a complex legal issue. This is particularly true in Florida, where assisted reproductive technology (ART) has necessitated clear laws on the matter. The Florida statute on the disposition of embryos in the event of divorce is not contained within a single statute but rather addressed through case law and implications from statutes dealing with property division.
Florida courts generally consider frozen embryos as personal property, and not as children, during divorce proceedings. Therefore, decision-making regarding embryos typically follows principles of property division. However, this can lead to conflicts between parties who may have differing intentions for the embryos’ future.
An important case that sheds light on this subject is Roman v. Roman, which took place in Texas but has been influential in other states, including Florida. In this 2006 case, the court ruled that the agreement signed at the fertility clinic concerning the disposition of the embryos in the event of separation or divorce would be binding. Absent such an agreement, courts are likely to attempt to balance each party’s interests, considering factors such as the ability to have biological children without the embryos and each party’s prior consent to their use or disposal.
The legal consensus is moving towards upholding agreements made at the time of the embryo's creation, provided that they are clear and enforceable. In cases where no agreement exists or it is deemed unenforceable, Florida courts may consider several factors:
- The purpose of the embryo preservation
- The wishes and intentions expressed by both parties at the time of preservation
- The possibility for either party to have biological children through other means
- The emotional, financial, and physical hardship involved in each potential outcome
While Florida does not have a specific statute that spells out how embryos should be treated in a divorce, examining case law provides guidance. For example, should one party want to implant the embryo and the other does not, courts may side with the person who wishes to avoid procreation, aligning with an individual’s right not to procreate.
It is essential for couples undergoing ART treatments to create comprehensive agreements regarding their embryos' future disposition. Such agreements should be drafted with legal counsel to ensure they are enforceable in court should a divorce occur.
In conclusion, while Florida lacks a specific statute governing embryo disposition post-divorce, existing case law suggests that agreements entered into at the time of IVF treatments will be upheld. In their absence or unenforceability, courts will balance parties’ interests through principles akin to property division while also considering constitutional rights related to procreation.