Attorney Ronald T. Scott Successfully Defends Cryopreservation Appeal Upholding Magistrate’s Child Support Order
Attorney Ronald T. Scott recently prevailed in a unique child support case in the Superior Court. The decision involved the cryopreservation of a couple’s embryos, the embryos subsequent implantation into the mother, and the consequent child support obligations arising from the birth of their daughter. In prevailing in this action, Attorney Scott successfully enforced Connecticut’s Acknowledgment of Paternity statute (General Statutes 46b-172).
During the parties’ marriage, the Appellee and Appellant sought the assistance of a fertility clinic. Several embryos were frozen with the intent that they later be implanted into the wife, however the parties divorced before any implantation procedures occurred. The judgment of dissolution incorporated by reference an agreement of the parties, which included a provision that the parties destroy the embryos created and stored during the marriage. Neither party took any action based on this provision. Subsequently, the mother underwent a successful implantation procedure with the father’s consent. An Acknowledgement of Paternity signed by the father, and executed in accordance with the statute’s requirements demonstrated this consent. In 2011, the State of Connecticut filed a support action against the father on behalf of the mother. At that point, the father claimed that the mother was in contempt of the dissolution judgment by virtue of the implantation of an embryo the parties had previously agreed to destroy.
The magistrate issued a child support order based on the Acknowledgment of Paternity, which demonstrated that the father consented to an order of support. Upon appeal from a Family Support Magistrate, the Superior Court acknowledged that the State of Connecticut does not have any case law supporting both the failure of a parent to dispose of frozen embryos and a subsequent order of support being entered against a “non-consenting” biological parent. However, because the father had signed the Acknowledgment of Paternity, the Superior Court affirmed that he had consented to the procreation of a child. Because Connecticut case law recognizes that children have a right to be supported by their progenitors, and because the father demonstrated consent by signing the Acknowledgment of Paternity, the father owed the child a duty of support.