This week, we will discuss one more installment on the topic of advanced fertility options and family courts. As we have said in the previous posts on men who are choosing to become fathers through surrogacy, a state court grappling with child support in sperm donation cases, and custody issues surrounding children conceived through in vitro fertilization, there are many new issues related to fertility advancements and family law coming to head.
Another related issue that was recently explored in an article from the New York Times has to do with whether fertility treatments can be considered part of the “marital lifestyle” and, therefore, part of a divorce settlement. The concept might not seem to make sense at first blush, but let us explain.
As part of the settlement in a Connecticut divorce case, a 38-year-old woman is asking for $20,000 from her soon-to-be ex-husband in order to keep up with fertility treatments. Specifically, the woman is seeking the funds to pay for the costs associated with having her eggs frozen.
The woman and her divorce lawyer are arguing that since the couple had been pursuing fertility treatments during the marriage, the treatments should be considered part of the marital lifestyle, which should still be supported after the marriage ends. The woman states that the divorce does not change her desire to become a mother — even though she now plans on conceiving with donated sperm instead of her husband’s.
This appears to be one of the first cases to address fertility treatments as a part of an alimony award, though some legal experts say that the concept makes sense.
According to an expert from Syracuse University, putting off having a baby — and therefore having a need to be compensated for fertility treatments — could potentially be considered the same as needing to be compensated for putting off school or a job in order to raise a family, which is commonly recognized in divorce cases.
Although the Connecticut divorce is expected to settle out of court, it is possible that case law on this issue could soon begin to evolve. Once again, this is an issue that family law courts throughout Illinois and the rest of the country will have to address sooner or later as advanced fertility options become even more commonplace.
Source: The New York Times, “Alimony for Your Eggs,” Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Sept. 6, 2013