An unnamed 38-year-old woman in New Jersey is divorcing her her husband of 8 years. What separates this story from an otherwise common tale, is that the woman is asking her husband for $20,000 in the divorce settlement so she can freeze and store her eggs.
Egg freezing is becoming an increasingly common fertility preservation technique as women realize their eggs might no longer be viable by the time they're ready to have them. Freezing eggs stops the clock on aging and allows the woman to become pregnant whenever she chooses. In a woman's fertility, it's the age of her eggs that matter, not the age of her womb.
The New Jersey case opens up some new and interesting legal questions regarding fertility. Men have less of an age restriction on fertility than women. Should divorced men have to pay to preserve their ex-wives' fertility? Does a case like this turn eggs into a marital asset with a monetary value that can be divided and negotiated in a divorce? These are some of the questions this case is bringing to the forefront, and the New Jersey courts have no precedent for it. As a result, this case will set the precedent and other courts will follow.
In this particular case, the woman and her husband tried in-vitro fertilization several times without success during their marriage. They intended to have a family. The woman's lawyer is arguing that paying for fertility treatments became part of the marital lifestyle to which the woman had become accustomed and should therefore be continued by her ex-husband after the divorce.
Her lawyer also likens her situation to a wife who puts her husband through law school only to have him divorce her just as he becomes a lawyer. She had an expectation of benefiting from his lawyer income and thus should be compensated for that sacrifice by taking a portion of his earnings in alimony. In this case, the preservation of her fertility through egg freezing, paid for by her ex-husband, is her alimony for the years she put into the marriage expecting to have a family.
Source: Richards, Sarah Elizabeth. "Alimony for Your Eggs." The New York Times. 6 Sept 2013. Web. 14 Sept 2013.