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Divorce and pregnancy in Texas: Understanding the facts

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Divorce |

As courts and lawmakers across the U.S. at the state and federal levels seem to be getting further and further into people’s personal lives – particularly when it involves having children — people are for the first time noticing laws and practices that have, in fact, been in place for decades. Among these is the question of whether or not a couple can divorce if the wife is pregnant.

You may have heard that Texas is among a handful of states where a divorce can’t be granted while a spouse is pregnant. While that’s not specifically stated in Texas statutes, it is a matter of practice in the courts to wait until the baby has been born. There is a question on the divorce petition about whether one of the spouses is pregnant.

What is the reasoning behind the practice?

The practice of not finalizing divorces until after the baby is born actually has less to do with controlling a woman’s ability to get out of a marriage (although it may certainly feel that way to some people) than the fact that matters involving child custody and support (assuming the baby is the husband’s) can’t be decided until the child is born and then included in the divorce agreement. For example, if the baby were to be born with a serious disability, it could affect these orders. If there’s a question about the baby’s paternity, that would be determined after the baby is born as well.

This doesn’t mean that couples can’t begin the process of divorce and in fact decide a number of issues while waiting until the divorce can be finalized. They also need to have at least a 60-day separation period anyway.

What about victims of abuse and violence?

A serious and valid concern is what happens if there’s abuse or violence in the marriage. Spouses can still obtain restraining orders if that’s the case. The law by no means requires an abused spouse to continue living under the same roof as their abuser.

The important thing is to know what steps you can take to move forward with a divorce so that it can be finalized as soon as the baby arrives. Having legal guidance is crucial to protecting your rights and your safety.