Washington law does not prohibit parties from getting a divorce if the wife is currently pregnant. However, there are some unique legal issues that are likely to arise in this context regarding the unborn child, whether the child is born during the marriage or in the months following the divorce. Individuals who find themselves in this situation should take care to be aware of these issues and discuss all available options with a Washington divorce attorney.
Under Washington law, there is a presumption that the husband and wife are the legal parents of any child who is born during their marriage or within 300 days of a divorce. If, however, the child is not the biological child of the husband, the divorce petition must reflect that fact. When these circumstances exist, the court will not make any orders regarding that child in the divorce action. Rather, any court orders regarding the child will occur in a separate court action between the biological parents of the child.
All too often, however, the spouses may disagree on the parentage of the child. In this case, either the wife or the husband can allege that the husband is the child’s father. Genetic testing is the only way to resolve this type of disagreement. Assuming that the test reveals that the husband is the child’s father, it really makes no difference whether the wife is pregnant at the time of the divorce or gives birth prior to the divorce; in either case, the court must make provisions for the child in terms of custody, visitation, and child support.
Alternatively, a third party could step forward and allege that he is the child’s father. If genetic testing shows that the third party is the biological father of the child, a judge can enter orders regarding that child in a separate parentage suit. The husband then will have no financial responsibility for the child or rights to visitation with the child, regardless as to whether the child is born during or after the marriage.
The divorce process can differ greatly from case to case, and some cases are much more complex than others. No matter what issues arise in your divorce proceedings, however, we are here to help. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled countless divorce cases throughout the years, as well as all other family law-related matters. Contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney today so that we can explain your rights and responsibilities regarding divorce law in the state of Washington.