In re Marriage of [husband and wife]; [Wife] represented by Partner Thomas T. Field and Associate Grace M. Doherty

In a case of first impression, In re Marriage of [husband and wife] is the first case in Illinois which decides the ownership of frozen embryos where the parties are married.

This matter revolves around a dispute between [husband] and [wife] a married couple, who decided to undergo treatments to help them conceive a child using their genetic material. The couple went to Fertility Centers of Illinois (“Center”) for the procedure, and there executed a consent agreement. Several years later, and during the pendency of dissolution of marriage proceedings, an issue arises regarding the ownership of the six remaining embryos.

In its holding, the Court expands its decision in Szafranski v. Dunston, 2013 IL App. 1st 122975, and finds that marital status does not change the fact that contract law controls these type of agreements. Thus, as was the situation here, where the parties have signed an agreement of some kind which delineates disposition of embryos, those terms should be followed.

The Court found that the consent form, signed by both parties, unambiguously states that wife will be given control over the parties embryos should the relationship dissolve. The Court further found that the consent form was a valid and enforceable contract as to all provisions, and therefore, awarded [wife] complete control over the six frozen embryos.

Thomas T. Field, Partner