“Can I get divorced if I’m pregnant?” “Can I get divorced if my spouse is pregnant?” Either of these two questions may make a challenging divorce process start to feel overwhelming. The answers to these questions can be split into two parts. First, whether not you can file for divorce during a pregnancy, and second, whether or not your divorce will be granted during a pregnancy.

Can You File For Divorce?

You may be wondering if it is even legal to file for a divorce while you or your spouse are pregnant. The answer to that question is “yes.” While the exact method of doing so can vary from state to state, there are generally no legal prohibitions against simply starting the divorce process during a pregnancy.

However, be aware that when you file for a divorce, you will almost certainly be required to disclose certain information related to the pregnancy. Commonly, this simply involves disclosing the fact that you or your spouse is pregnant, as well as whether or not the husband is the father of the child.

Will Your Divorce Be Granted?

Unfortunately, whether or not your divorce will be granted during a pregnancy is a less definite matter. It depends on the state you live in, as well as the judge your case is presented to. Divorce during a pregnancy is a legal gray area in most states. In other words, even though there may be no actual laws against granting a divorce while pregnant, courts can still decide to delay or even deny a divorce on the basis of pregnancy if they believe it is the best decision.

Reasons Why a Divorce May Be Delayed

Why would some courts want to prevent a divorce during a pregnancy? There are two main factors behind the reasoning of most courts for doing so. First, child support and child custody are major issues in any divorce case involving children. While determining these child-related issues is already a complex process, an unborn child greatly increases the complexity.

Many courts won’t handle decisions relating to child support and child custody until after the child has been born. Often, this is because of a policy that decisions can only be made regarding children that have already been born and granted a social security number. Because of this, courts may be hesitant to grant a divorce until after the pregnancy – particularly if they expect to see a modification to the divorce or a new child custody case soon after the divorce is granted.

Some courts may be willing to grant a divorce during a pregnancy if there is a joint agreement on matters related to child support, child custody, visitation rights, and any other issues the court believes to be a concern. However, this is not true for all locations. Some courts require waiting until the birth of the child regardless of whether or not the parents can come to an agreement.

The second issue arises as a result of the legal assumption that any child conceived during a marriage is fathered by the husband. In many states, such as California, this presumption even extends for a period of time after the marriage ends. If you or anyone else is contesting this assumption, then it will likely need to be proven true or false by a paternity test. In general, court-ordered paternity tests are paid for by the court, but the proven father is often ordered to pay once paternity is established.

Some courts may accept an agreement where the wife and husband agree that the husband is not the father, and the actual father states that he is the biological father. Whether or not such an agreement is accepted will depend on the court and the state. You should consult with a lawyer before attempting any such agreements.

Each State is Different

While these issues are common across all 50 states, each state approaches them in a slightly different way. Courts in Texas, for example, tend to follow two general rules. First, if the husband is the father of the child, courts will not finalize the divorce until after the child is born. Second, if the husband is not the father of the child, courts will not finalize the divorce until a paternity test proves that the husband is not the actual father.

Washington State, meanwhile, is operating on the opposite end of the spectrum. Washington State judges are prevented by law from delaying or denying a divorce on the basis of pregnancy alone. This wasn’t always the law in Washington. In late 2004, a Spokane County judge revoked a woman’s divorce from her abusive husband on the grounds that the paternity of the child had not been established. Public outcry quickly followed the decision, and state law was amended to prevent Washington State judges from using similar reasoning in the future. As a result, it is now considerably easier to get a divorce in Washington State during a pregnancy.

Where to From Here?

Deciding to divorce, particularly during a pregnancy, is a decision that should be carefully considered. You should also keep in mind that your divorce may not be finalized until after the birth of the child, even if the divorce is not intentionally being delayed for that purpose. A number of states have a required “waiting period” before a divorce can be filed and/or before a divorce decree can be received. Depending on the length of this waiting period, and how far along the pregnancy is, it may result in the child being born before the divorce is finalized. This can potentially result in new issues needing to be resolved before the divorce can be completed.

After the child is born and the divorce has been finalized, if there are still issues related to child support and visitation, you may be asked to see a parenting consultant. While they cannot act on your behalf unless ordered to do so by the court, they can offer professional advice on your situation and make recommendations.

Regardless of which state you live in, you should seriously consider consulting a lawyer over this issue if you haven’t already. Divorces involving children are already complicated matters. Divorces involving an unborn child can be even more complex. Having legal counsel to assist you with the process will make things significantly easier.

In General, Is a State Willing to Consider Granting a Divorce During a Pregnancy?

  • Alabama - Unknown
  • Alaska - Unknown
  • Arizona - Maybe
  • Arkansas - No
  • California - Yes
  • Colorado - Unknown
  • Connecticut - Unknown
  • Delaware - Unknown
  • Florida - Unknown
  • Georgia - Yes
  • Hawaii - No
  • Idaho - Unknown
  • Illinois - Yes
  • Indiana - Maybe
  • Iowa - Unknown
  • Kansas - Yes
  • Kentucky - No
  • Louisiana - Unknown
  • Maine - Unknown
  • Maryland - Maybe
  • Massachusetts - No
  • Michigan - Maybe
  • Minnesota - Unknown
  • Mississippi - Maybe
  • Missouri - No
  • Montana - Maybe
  • Nebraska - Unknown
  • Nevada - Yes
  • New Hampshire - Unknown
  • New Jersey - Unknown
  • New Mexico - Unknown
  • New York - Unknown
  • North Carolina - Unknown
  • North Dakota - Unknown
  • Ohio - No
  • Oklahoma - Unknown
  • Oregon - No
  • Pennsylvania - Yes
  • Rhode Island - Unknown
  • South Carolina - Unknown
  • South Dakota - Unknown
  • Tennessee - Unknown
  • Texas - No
  • Utah - Yes
  • Vermont - Unknown
  • Virginia - Maybe
  • Washington - Yes
  • West Virginia - Unknown
  • Wisconsin - No
  • Wyoming - Unknown