Divorce While Pregnant in Seattle, Washington: Everything You Need to Know
In Washington state, you can get divorced while pregnant, and you can divorce a pregnant spouse. Your divorce cannot be denied because of your pregnancy or your wife’s pregnancy, and you don’t have to wait for the child to be born for your divorce to be finalized.
You can file for divorce if your husband got another woman pregnant. And you can also file for divorce if your wife committed adultery and you don’t believe you are the father.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman is most vulnerable, but it is also a time when a marriage and relationship can be very vulnerable as well.
It can bring new stressors into a marriage or reveal character flaws about a person that previously were hidden. It is also a time when a relationship can experience major changes—good and bad. In fact, domestic violence can begin when a woman becomes pregnant.
According to the journal Violence and Victims, domestic violence during pregnancy is shockingly common. Emotional abuse was prevalent in 28.4% of pregnancies, physical abuse was prevalent in 13.8% of pregnancies, and sexual abuse was prevalent in 8% of pregnancies.
Many divorces that occur during pregnancy take place because one or both partners committed adultery or cheated on the other. For example, if your wife is pregnant and you are questioning paternity, filing for divorce during pregnancy can begin a process whereby you can formally de-establish paternity.
If you do this, your former partner may need to file a paternity case and request genetic testing to establish paternity. If you are pregnant and your husband isn’t the father, you may want to file for divorce to de-establish paternity so that the father of the child can be on the birth certificate.
Under Washington law, your partner will automatically be named the father on the birth certificate when your child is born if the child was conceived during your marriage.
Divorce while pregnant in Seattle, Washington can give you the formal opportunity to make clear that paternity must be established or clearly state that your husband is not the father of the child so his name isn’t automatically on the birth certificate.
There are many reasons why couples might want to file for divorce while pregnant. Maybe you realized you don’t want to bring a child into the kind of relationship dynamic you and your partner share.
Whatever your reasons, understand that you can file for divorce during pregnancy, and that the collaborative divorce lawyers in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can help you navigate the complex issues that can arise.
Filing for divorce the conventional way can take a long time. For example, it can take as long as a year to get a court date. This can create major complications if your husband isn’t the father of your child, or if your wife is pregnant with another man’s child.
By choosing the collaborative divorce process in Seattle, Washington, you can get divorced faster, negotiate your settlement without having to set foot in a courtroom, and more peacefully resolve your differences.
Let’s explore the different issues that can arise with divorce during pregnancy.
1. Can You Get Divorced While Pregnant?
Yes, you can get divorced while pregnant in Washington state, and your divorce can be finalized while you are pregnant. A judge can’t make you wait until the baby is born to finalize the divorce decree. (Some states make divorcing couples wait until the baby is born to finalize the divorce decree.
Judges in these states will wait until the baby is born so that paternity can be established, child support orders made, and a parenting plan included in the divorce filing.) In Washington state, you cannot get a parenting plan or order for child support until the baby is born, but you don’t have to wait for the baby to be born to file for divorce.
You may be able to request that the court refer to your divorce case after the child is born, so when the time comes to establish child support and create a parenting plan, the court can more readily open your case.
You can also resolve property and debt issues through a separation agreement, a binding contract tied to a divorce case, and resolve parenting and child support issues once the child is born.
The collaborative divorce lawyers in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can help you every step of the way, from filing for divorce while pregnant, to working out child custody and child support after the baby is born.
Understanding that laws regarding pregnancy and divorce vary state by state and can be important to keep in mind if you live in Washington state, but are in the military and have a choice about the state in which you can file for divorce.
2. How to Handle a Divorce While Pregnant
Pregnancy can be a stressful time by virtue of the major changes it brings, but handling a divorce while you are pregnant can make this vulnerable time feel even more unsafe.
Researchers writing in Current Opinion in Psychiatry note that anxiety, depression, and stress in pregnancy are associated with negative outcomes including shorter gestation periods, lower birth weight, and developmental delays and issues.
If you are thinking of filing for divorce while pregnant, it is important to take steps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression as much as possible. Divorce can raise all kinds of emotions, including sadness, anger, and resentment. While conventional divorce often involves an adversarial process that includes going to court to fight out your divorce settlement, there are easier, more peaceful ways.
The collaborative divorce process allows you and your former partner to settle your differences at the negotiating table rather than in the courtroom. A collaborative divorce lawyer in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can use conflict resolution and negotiation strategies to help you and your former partner settle your differences peacefully.
The collaborative divorce process can also include the assistance of experts including mental health counselors, divorce coaches, and other professionals who can help guide you through this process, as you make crucial decisions about your divorce.
When getting divorced, you’ll need to make decisions about how to split finances, debts, assets, retirement accounts, and ultimately, when the baby is born, you’ll need to make decisions about child custody. Truce Law is a collaborative divorce law firm in Seattle, Washington that can help you navigate the challenges of divorce more peacefully.
3. Factors that Can Affect a Divorce During Pregnancy
There are several factors that can affect divorce during pregnancy, chief among them, paternity issues. If you are pregnant and get divorced, when the child is born, your spouse will automatically be named the father on the birth certificate.
This is because marriage establishes paternity. But if paternity is in question, or if you know that your spouse should not be named the child’s legal father, you may need to de-establish paternity in your divorce decree. You cannot assume that just getting divorced will de-establish paternity.
Another issue is that you won’t be able to finalize and formalize your parenting plan or child support until the baby is born. Some couples choose to wait to finalize their divorce until the baby is born so that these concerns can be included in the divorce settlement paperwork.
Others choose not to wait, and simply re-open the case later to add a parenting plan and child support order later. If your partner is not the father of your child, divorcing sooner rather than later may be beneficial.
De-establishing paternity after a child is born and if your husband is on the birth certificate can create more complications. The court may question whether the father held the child as his own, and in cases like this, even if the child isn’t the biological son or daughter, the courts may not always de-establish paternity.
If you are thinking of getting divorced during pregnancy, a collaborative divorce in Seattle, Washington might be right for you. The collaborative divorce lawyers in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can help you navigate the various factors and challenges that can affect divorce during pregnancy.
4. What if the Husband is Not the Biological Father of the Unborn Child?
If the husband is not the biological father of the unborn child, you’ll need to file a petition to disprove the parentage or de-establish parentage in your divorce settlement.
The law will assume paternity should be assigned to your spouse when the child is born, even if you get divorced while pregnant. Divorce alone doesn’t de-establish paternity.
If you know another person is the father of your child, you’ll need to file a petition for parentage to establish them as the father.
5. When Do I Have to Tell the Court I’m Pregnant When Filing for Divorce?
When you file for divorce, the paperwork explicitly asks whether one partner is pregnant. One of the primary reasons that Washington State requires a 90-day cooling off period, time between filing a divorce petition and finalizing a divorce case, is to ensure that a spouse is not pregnant before closing a divorce action.
6. What If the Divorce Is Already Started?
Until the divorce settlement is finalized by a judge, it can be changed. If you become pregnant and have already started the divorce process, your collaborative lawyer in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law can update the paperwork to let the court know you are pregnant, and if parentage needs to be de-established, your collaborative divorce lawyer can also include this information.
7. What If We Used Alternative Methods to Become Pregnant?
It depends on the situation, but unless you want to de-establish paternity, you will simply need to let the court know you are pregnant and go from there. The methods by which you became pregnant shouldn’t matter if your intent was to have a child together.
8. Will my Spouse Automatically Be the Child’s Legal Parent When He or She is Born?
If you are pregnant and getting divorced, your spouse will be named the baby’s legal parent, even if the child is born after you’ve finalized your divorce, and even if the father isn’t the biological parent. If you question paternity, or don’t want your spouse to be the legal parent, then you’ll need to include this explicitly in your divorce terms.
9. Before Filing for Divorce While Pregnant
If you are thinking of filing for divorce while pregnant in Seattle, Washington, you’ll want to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Divorce during pregnancy raises some unique issues and a lawyer will be best able to help you navigate them.
The collaborative divorce process in Seattle, Washington can allow you and your former partner to negotiate your divorce settlement in private and without the need for costly litigation or the need to wait a long time for a court date. If you file for conventional divorce, you’ll likely wait up to a year for a court date. And, if you’re pregnant, your baby will already be born, by the time you make it to court.
If you choose collaborative divorce in Seattle, Washington, you’ll be able to divorce on your own timeline and in most cases, you’ll be able to get divorced sooner, because you won’t be waiting for a judge to have time to hear your case.
If your partner isn’t the father of your child, or if you are not the father and your wife is pregnant, collaborative divorce may offer you a path to get divorced before the child is born.
10. What Happens to the Birth Certificate When You Divorce a Pregnant Wife or If You are Pregnant and Divorce Your Husband?
If you are the father of the child, divorcing your pregnant wife shouldn’t change any details of the birth certificate. You will still be named the father of the child; the state will assume you are the father of the child.
If you are pregnant and file for divorce, your ex-husband will be named the father of the child unless you include instructions stating otherwise in your divorce decree. The only way you can avoid being automatically named the father of the child on the birth certificate (or have your husband automatically be named the father) is to specifically note in your divorce decree that you wish to disavow paternity or that you want to challenge paternity.
11. Pregnancy Legal Rights and Questioning Paternity
When two people are married, and a child is conceived, the state automatically assumes that the wife’s spouse is the father of the child. To question paternity or avoid being automatically named the father on the birth certificate, you’ll need to de-establish paternity in your divorce decree.
It can be harder to do this after a child is born. To file a petition to show that your former spouse shouldn’t be the legal parent of your child if you don’t de-establish paternity in your divorce decree, you’ll need to show that either you and your former spouse weren’t living together when the child was conceived or state that you didn’t have sexual intercourse together when the child was conceived.
In general, if a parent has played the role of father or mother for some time and the child sees this parent as his or her father or mother, it can be difficult to disprove parentage because most states see this as not being in the best interests of the child.
12. Can I Create a Parenting Plan or Order for Child Support When I Get Divorced While Pregnant?
You cannot get a parenting plan or order for child support if you are divorcing while pregnant. In Washington state you can only create a parenting plan or order for child support after a child is born.
If there are no issues involving paternity, you can ask that the court re-open your divorce file after your child is born and add the order for child support and parenting plan to your divorce settlement then. In many cases instead of reopening the case, a divorcing couple chooses to hold off on finalizing the divorce case until the child is born.
If there are upcoming court deadlines, they can request that the case schedule be moved in order to push those deadlines further out. Once the child is born, parenting plan and child support issues can be resolved.
13. Can You Collect Child Support While Pregnant?
You cannot collect child support while pregnant. You can only get an order for child support after your baby is born.
14. Tips for Coping with Divorce While Pregnant
Divorce can be challenging enough, but if you are pregnant, it can be extra stressful. Infidelity, conflict, financial issues, substance abuse, health issues, religious differences, and domestic violence can lead to divorce.
While the divorce process itself can lead to heightened stress, many individuals ultimately find peace after their divorce is finalized. Yet, the unfolding of your divorce itself can be a stressful time, especially if your divorce is high-conflict or if you choose to take your divorce to court. If you haven’t yet filed for divorce and are looking for an easier way, you may want to consider speaking to a collaborative divorce lawyer in Seattle, Washington at Truce Law.
The collaborative divorce process allows you to settle your divorce outside court while building a strong team to support you. Your collaborative divorce team can include mental health counselors, parenting coaches, financial planners, and other professionals who can help you as you navigate this incredibly challenging time.
Taking care of yourself during your divorce should be your top priority. Seek support from family, friends, and support groups. If your marriage is ending due to domestic violence or substance abuse, there may be support groups in your area that you may be able to join by connecting with the National Domestic Violence Hotline or Al-Anon.
Professionals like your collaborative divorce lawyer, your counselor, therapist, doctor, and other members of your support team can assist you as you transition from married life to single parenthood. Your collaborative divorce lawyer can help you understand your rights and options when it comes to challenging questions like paternity, child support, child custody, and more.
Finally, your collaborative divorce lawyer can help you navigate the difficult financial questions divorce can raise, so that your baby can be born into the best possible financial situation you and your former partner can provide.
15. How Collaborative Divorce Can Help You Get Divorced While Pregnant
If you’re thinking of getting divorced while pregnant, the Seattle, Washington collaborative divorce lawyers at Truce Law can help you navigate the unique challenges that can arise.
If your husband is not the father of the child, or if your wife cheated on you and you want to question paternity, getting divorced and de-establishing paternity before the child is born may be the option you want to choose.
Yet, couples who take their divorce to court can wait months to a year to get a court date. By the time you can see a judge, the baby will likely be born.
Through the collaborative divorce process, you may be able to get divorced sooner, and be able to navigate the difficult questions that can arise during your divorce in private. Contact the collaborative divorce lawyers at Truce Law in Seattle, Washington today to learn more.