Divorce is almost always an emotional shock for everyone involved. In more than half of divorces, controversial issues arise related to the division of property, alimony, and other areas.
If among other things, one of the spouses is pregnant, getting a divorce becomes much more difficult.
Usually, waiting for the birth of a baby is a great joy. But when the family breaks up and the woman is pregnant, it only creates additional problems.
In Texas, a married couple cannot divorce until the baby is born, so the divorce process in this situation takes a long time to finalize.
Filing for divorce while pregnant in Texas
Although getting divorced while pregnant in Texas is impossible until a child is born, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start the divorce proceedings.
The state law allows you to file for divorce and begin negotiating the terms with your spouse or go through mediation to reach a settlement agreement in uncontested cases.
All these preliminary preparations will help you shorten the time needed to get divorced once the baby comes into this world, officially ending your marriage.
To initiate the divorce process, one of the parties needs to prepare and file divorce documents with the local court.
In Texas, these documents include but are not limited to the following:
- Original Petition for Divorce (which has questions about pregnancy and paternity)
- Waiver of service
- Divorce Decree
- Other forms
Collecting the exact forms required for divorce can be a tedious task. If you wish to make the process go faster, consider using a customized online divorce documents preparation service.
The filing stage for divorce is also a perfect time to discuss future custody arrangements with your spouse. For example, you can start composing a parenting plan required in any Texas divorce (Texas Family Code Sec. 153.603).
Complications of divorce during pregnancy in Texas
If you or your spouse are pregnant and you are about to get a divorce, you may face several difficulties. You have to understand that a baby will complicate your life in profound ways, and some of these complications you may not be able to solve on your own.
Apart from the Texas court restrictions and waiting periods, you will also face financial challenges. The sooner you start preparing, the sooner you’ll get your freedom and comfortable living conditions.
Child support issues
Getting a divorce while pregnant in Texas is forbidden because child custody and support issues cannot be resolved until the baby’s birth.
While it is possible to determine the custody arrangements after the divorce decree is issued in some other states, Texas courts do not enter any judgment until all aspects are addressed.
The child support obligation is particularly important in a situation where a husband believes he is not the child’s biological father. In Texas, the duty to support minor children financially falls on both the father and the mother.
The amount of monthly payment is calculated depending on both parents’ income and the number of children. And unless a husband denies his paternity, he would be liable for paying child support following the court orders.
Regardless of pregnancy, all divorces in Texas have a 60-day waiting period until a final decree is issued (Texas Family Code § 6.702). The countdown starts from the moment the petition is filed.
These two months are given for the spouses to rethink their decision and possibly reconcile. Due to the courts’ congestion, it is necessary to find time to schedule a hearing.
Texas law also provides a few exceptions to the mandatory waiting period, connected with domestic violence instances. You can bypass the required two-months delay if:
- your spouse has committed a crime involving domestic violence against you or your family member, or
- you have a protective order from your spouse based on previous instances of domestic violence.
It is worth mentioning that the end of the waiting period doesn’t automatically mean that you will be divorced the next day.
Your divorce process might take more than two months, especially if you are in conflict with your spouse about the terms of your separation.
A child’s arrival will surely bring a lot of financial challenges into the parents’ lives. Considering that they also have to struggle with divorce and paying for legal services, their financial burden becomes even heavier.
If spouses cannot agree on all issues and part amicably, each of them typically hires an attorney, whose hourly pay starts from $200, making the cost of divorce skyrocket.
Single parenting after the divorce is even more difficult. It is hard to estimate all expenses that a single mother or father will face. They will depend on several factors, such as:
- whether the custodial parent takes time off work to raise the child;
- the cost of childcare and daily essentials;
- the child’s health and special needs, etc.
Careful budget planning is necessary at this stage to make sure all your baby’s needs are fulfilled after you get separated from your spouse. In addition to child support, think about requesting alimony because you will likely stay at home with the child and not have time for earning enough money.
Divorce if a wife is pregnant with another man’s child
It’s not uncommon when a spouse is pregnant by a person other than her husband. If this is your case, you’ll need to take additional steps to get divorced, such as establishing paternity.
However, regardless of a biological father’s identity, the divorce process will still extend until the child is born. So, it would be wise to start resolving paternity issues in advance, possibly consulting a lawyer.
Presumption of paternity
According to Texas law, a husband is presumed to be the father of all children born during the marriage and within 300 days after legal separation, divorce, annulment, or a husband’s death (Texas Family Code § 160.204).
If a couple married after a child’s birth, a husband is also presumed to be the father if he acknowledged his paternity by signing the birth certificate.
The issue of paternity will consequently play a significant role in child custody arrangements and support obligation.
Since it is very complicated to rebut this presumption while a spouse is pregnant, Texas courts won’t address any child-related issues until after the baby’s birth.
The challenge to the paternity
If a husband is sure he is not the child’s biological father, he has the right to rebut the presumption of paternity. There are two ways to do it – by adjudication or filing a denial of paternity.
To adjudicate non-paternity, a person needs to go through an entirely different court procedure that includes genetic testing.
As for the other option, a presumed father must sign a Denial of Paternity where he states that he is not a child’s biological father.
This form won’t be valid unless the child’s birth father and the mother sign another form – an Acknowledgment of Paternity.
A denial of paternity is invalid if a person previously obtained legal rights by another court order.
Is it a good idea to start a divorce while pregnant?
There is no definite answer to this question. Each couple has specific reasons for divorce and related difficulties. The best scenario is if both spouses agree to divorce peacefully and are ready to raise the children and actively participate in their lives.
In other cases, it is better to carefully consider all the consequences of the decision in advance and only then begin to act.