Fertility Clinic Agreements Upheld: Frozen Embryos Destroyed Upon Divorce of Couple

On November 18, 2015 the decision of Findley v. Lee, a case before the San Francisco Superior Court, was released. The California decision highlights the significant importance of parties being fully aware, informed and understanding the nature and consequences of the “consents” before a party signs any agreements and/or consents required by fertility clinics.

In this case, the parties had signed an agreement and consents with a fertility clinic, in which there was a term that provided that in the event the parties were to divorce any frozen embryos created would be destroyed. (It should be noted that neither party had independent legal advice prior to signing these documents.) The parties divorced during their assisted reproductive process. The husband sought to have the embryos destroyed as per the agreement and consents the parties had signed with the fertility centre. The wife challenged the husband’s position. The husband was successful with the court determining that the standard agreement and consents were valid, enforceable and captured the intention of the parties and their circumstances.

Findley v. Lee, although a California legal decision, flags the critical importance of parties fully understanding the standard agreements and consents provided by fertility clinics in advance of signing the same; more specifically understanding the legal implications of the terms of these documents in light of the intention and specific wishes of the parties.

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