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Legal Questions about In Vitro Fertilization

What is IVF?

IVF or In vitro fertilization is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulating process, removing an egg, aka ova from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. Sometimes, disagreements arise during an IVF procedure, leading to legal issues and questions. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer can answer any questions you may have about IVF laws.

In Florida if someone’s husband had IVF with his girlfriend is that legal since he was married? Would the doctor that performed the procedure need to get legal authorization from the wife first?

It is usually legal for the spouse to donate sperm to a person for In Vitro Fertilization. Florida does not have any specific laws outlined that prohibit this as being against the law. The state hasn’t outlawed suits for alienation of affection or claims against the other person in cases like this either. In fact, this would not even be considered adultery as you cannot prove the child was conceived through sex, since it was quite the opposite. However, if a romantic relationship is proven and not just a friendship, then it is possible he can be held liable for that but it would be only for grounds for divorce if you choose. In most situations the attending physician that performed the procedure would not need legal authorization from the wife.

In Virginia, if someone was to have an IVF procedure, can the donor be sued for child support if the mother was ever to need public state assistance?

Under Virginia law, a donor is not the parent of a child conceived through assisted conception, unless the donor is the husband of the gestational mother. However, the definition of "assisted conception is: a pregnancy resulting from any intervening medical technology, whether in vivo or in vitro, which completely or partially replaces sexual intercourse as the means of conception. Such intervening medical technology includes, but is not limited to, conventional medical and surgical treatment as well as reproductive technology such as artificial insemination by donor, cryopreservation embryos, in vitro fertilization, uterine embryo lavage and transfer, intra-fallopian tube transfer, and low tubal ovum transfer. Therefore, artificial insemination would only prevent the donor from being the legal father of the child if the artificial insemination was accomplished by medical procedures.

If the mother were to apply for welfare, the government would demand the father's identity. If you are able to identify the donor, you must. According to policies that pertain to government assistance, you must make any reasonable efforts to identify the donor.

If someone were to have a child through a traditional surrogate parenting and their husband was the biological father, how much would the legal fees usually cost for drawing up the contract as well as court fees in Pennsylvania for IVF

Many times this would be considered a retainer type of case. In most situations a retainer would or could cost in the upwards of $5k as well as have an hourly bill rate. That would average $200-$250 an hour. It is impossible for a lawyer to give a fixed fee because you never know how much work would be put in until it's been done. Many times a surrogate might have a change of heart, or other legal issues can arise along the way. There have been times where legal fees have run up to $7,500-$10,000 and legal costs—filing fees, etc., are billed out separately.

If a couple lives in Virginia, and is contemplating a divorce because the husband does not want another child, but the wife wants to have a in vitro fertilization procedure, what are the legal repercussions of this procedure in the divorce?

In most situations, the husband is considered the father of all children who are born during the marriage. A divorce action may be suspended until the birth of that child. The reason this is done is for the court to have jurisdiction over the child in order to make custody and/child support decisions. The court will be unable to make a decision regarding the child's caretaking until the child is born. However, the court's action generally applies if the wife is already pregnant, and not in the case of attempting to get pregnant.

In Virginia, there is a one year period of separation. It is possible to work out a separation agreement where it is understood you will not be responsible for a child conceived and born during the period of separation. In this case, it is possible to avoid responsibility as per the agreed terms. To make sure this agreement is done appropriately many times legal counsel is needed to protect your best interest.

It would all normally depend on what is agreed, who caused the conception and birth of the child and when the child was conceived. If the husband can "cut off" the relationship to the child (via the period of separation and through the separation agreement) he would have a stronger case to defeat a claim for child support or for the divorce to be "stayed" pending the child's birth.

Situations such as these often cause many more IVF related legal questions to arise. Many of the questions arise from state-specific differences in laws. IVF can be confusing if couples are having differing opinions. This is when you can turn to Family Lawyers on JustAnswer to have all your questions answered and to help determine if you may need a family law attorney.
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