For many couples, pregnancy is the happiest time of the marriage.
But for some couples, pregnancy occurs just as the marriage is breaking down.
One or both spouses might believe that now is the time to pull the plug on the marriage—regardless of the upcoming birth of their child.
As an experienced Austin divorce attorney, one question I receive often is, “Can you get a divorce while pregnant in Texas?”
The answer is usually, “You’ll have to wait.”
However, this does not mean that you can’t start planning for your divorce or even file paperwork while you are pregnant.
How Texas Courts Treat Divorce and Pregnancy
Generally, Texas judges don’t grant a divorce while one spouse is pregnant. There is a simple reason for this: the court wants to handle paternity issues at the same time as the divorce.
When a couple splits, one usually ends up paying child support to the custodial parent. The couple also needs to come up with a parenting plan to determine who the child will live with.
A judge will want to decide child support, child custody, and related issues when deciding whether to grant the divorce.
If a judge quickly granted a divorce, then this means that the case would have to be reopened later after the child is born. Even worse, the father might have split town by then and can’t be found in an attempt to avoid having to pay child support.
Ultimately, pregnant couples are in for a bit of a wait before they can divorce. For example, if you are 3 months pregnant, then you will need to wait 6 months before you can get divorced.
Also, Texas law requires that a couple wait 60 days anyway after filing a divorce petition.
Divorce when the Husband is not the Father
It sometimes happens that a wife gets pregnant by a man who is not her husband. Does this matter? Can you get divorced quickly, since child custody and child support issues will involve a different man (not your husband)?
Actually, you will probably still have to wait. Texas law has a presumption that a woman’s husband is the father of the child. This law is found in the Texas Family Code, section 160.204.
This presumption can be overcome if both your husband and the other man agree as to who the father is. However, you typically will need to wait until the child is born and a DNA test is used to determine paternity.
Why You Can Still File for Divorce while Pregnant
Although a judge won’t typically grant a divorce while the wife is pregnant, this does not mean you have to wait for the child to be born before filing. Instead, there are many advantages to filing a divorce now, months before the child is born.
For example, you can begin negotiating a settlement. Couples are free to decide issues between themselves involving:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Division of community property
- Division of community debts
- Spousal support/alimony
Some couples need months of negotiation before they can reach an agreement that both sides can agree on. By starting now, you might have ironed out many of the details by the time the baby is born. That could be ideal, allowing you a stress-free labor and delivery.
You might also need to attend mediation to help you reach an agreement. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help squabbling couples find common ground so that they can divorce amicably. The final months of a pregnancy could be a good time to engage in mediation.
Divorce and Domestic Violence
If you are scared of your spouse because of domestic violence or threats, then you should seek out a protective order, even if you are pregnant.
With a protective order, you can force your spouse to move out of the family home and also prohibit him from contacting you or your children.
You can also have other restrictions placed on him, such as no longer possessing a firearm.
Many of our clients are in distress and unsure about how to protect themselves and their babies. Contact us. You can receive an emergency protective order without a hearing. The sooner you act, the more we can do for you.
Contact an Austin Divorce Attorney Today
Pregnancy is not a permanent impediment to divorce. Although you might have to wait a few months, you can put the time to good use by negotiating a favorable divorce with your spouse.
Ultimately, many of our clients express high degree of satisfaction with their divorce and go on to co-parent successfully with their former husbands or wives.
If you have a question about divorce, please contact the Law Office of Ben Carrasco today. You can schedule an initial consultation with an Austin divorce attorney to discuss your case by calling 512-320-9126.