A divorce in itself is a transitional and difficult situation that often brings about stress. While divorce proceedings continue, so does everyday life. This means that you must continue meeting work, familial, and financial obligations. But what happens if you’re divorcing while your spouse is pregnant? While it will play a role in the divorce, the pregnancy alone will not prevent the divorce from happening.
Like with other factors during a divorce, establishing a concrete plan with your spouse is essential.
Divorcing A Pregnant Spouse
When deciding whether to get divorced, you may already have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. But in other circumstances, your spouse may be or become pregnant during the divorce proceedings. Thankfully, a divorce while pregnant will not inhibit the resolution of your case.
It does, however, pose sensitive questions that will need to be addressed. When one partner files for divorce, they complete a form called the Petition for Dissolution. The partner responding to the petition will complete the Response to Petition About a Marriage. Both forms provide space to address whether one partner is pregnant.
Importantly, the law presumes that the spouse of the pregnant wife is also the legal parent of the child, even if that spouse is not the biological parent. If there is no question of who the biological parent is and the issue is not contested, nothing needs to be done to determine parentage.
Note that while matters concerning alternative methods of pregnancy, such as surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, are outside the scope of this blog, the law will presume an intent to parent in such cases.
If You Do Not Seek Legal Parentage
There are various scenarios in which a divorcing couple will choose not to co-parent their soon-to-be-born child. Although these scenarios are sensitive and difficult, it is how you prepare for the issue that will benefit you during the divorce process.
For example, the child may be a result of infidelity. Or, perhaps your former wife became pregnant during the divorce by someone else. In either situation, it’s understandable that you and/or your ex-spouse would seek to disestablish parentage.
In general, there are two methods with which you can disestablish parentage:
1. As Part of the Divorce Petition or Response
If you have not yet filed your divorce petition or response to your wife’s petition, you may request a disestablishment of parentage under the document’s “other requests” section. This information will then be included in the divorce order under the “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.”
If your wife becomes pregnant after the petition and response are both filed, you may still seek a disestablishment by requesting it in the proposed divorce order.
Although it is possible to do this by reopening a final divorce order signed by a judge, this is difficult to do and can be costly.
2. Through a Petition to Disprove Parentage of a Presumed Parent
Another approach is to file a Petition to Disprove Parentage of a Presumed Parent. Under Washington state’s laws, both spouses where one is pregnant are considered the legal parents of the child.
Therefore, you must show that you aren’t or shouldn’t be the legal parent by proving two requirements:
- You did not live with your spouse when the child was conceived; and
- You did not have sexual intercourse with your spouse at the time the child was conceived.
Divorce Lawyers For Men Can Assist With Your Divorce
If you’re going through a divorce while your wife is pregnant, emotions may well run high. However, navigating this process with a trusted partner can make all the difference. At Divorce Lawyers For Men, our attorneys specialize in providing legal representation to men in Washington state.
We have the experience and skills necessary to prevent matters from becoming contentious, while also taking your facts and unique circumstances into account. If you are facing pregnancy during the divorce proceedings, trust our experience and knowledgeable advice for your representation needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.