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Life rarely happens in a way that is convenient for your plans. When you’re in the middle of a divorce, you may find that you’re dealing with several issues that make the process much more difficult. One issue that’s common during divorce proceedings is pregnancy. Some women choose to initiate proceedings while they are pregnant for a number of reasons. Others find out that they are pregnant after they have left their husbands, perhaps even before they’ve started the formal paperwork. In this case, it’s common for women to wonder if they have any legal obligation to tell the former spouse about the pregnancy.
No Burden to Tell
While many online pundits might tell you differently, there is currently no state that has a law that requires a woman to tell anyone that he or she is pregnant. While this is certainly something that can become apparent over time, the law is certainly on your side here. Things can certainly change once the child is born, of course, but you aren’t required by law to pick up the phone and tell your current spouse that you are having a child. This does not, however, mean that it’s necessarily the wisest legal move to make to keep the pregnancy hidden from your former spouse.
Issues with Divorce and Pregnancy
One of the most common reasons why people assume that women must disclose a pregnancy to their partner is that some states will not grant a divorce until the child is born. This does not mean that legal separations cannot happen during pregnancy or that individuals are forced to stay together, but rather that the state will require the parties to wait for finalization until the child has been born until some kind of custody arrangement has been made.
If you live in a state that allows for divorce while pregnant, the timing of your delivery will have ramifications on both your future and the future of your child. If your due date is before the date of the divorce’s finalization, the law will assume that your spouse is the father and thus he will have certain legal rights. If the due date is after the divorce, your spouse will have to establish paternity. This can have a huge impact on issues ranging from parental rights to your ability to get child support from your spouse in the future, so you’ll want to consider your choices carefully here.
While you may not have to tell your soon-to-be former spouse that you are pregnant, this does not mean that he cannot attempt to establish paternity later. While there is no real penalty for failing to disclose the pregnancy, you can expect significant issues to crop up surrounding custody once paternity is established. It’s often much easier to establish custody and visitation agreements before the divorce is finalized, especially if you want to minimize contact with your current spouse after the fact. This may feel like you are being forced into disclosure, but doing so on your terms may be better than doing so after the pregnancy is discovered.
What Happens Next?
Unfortunately, your pregnancy will create a potential link with the person you are leaving no matter what the situation. It’s entirely possible for him to try to establish paternity later, and the fact that the timetable of your pregnancy matches up to a time when the two of you were together will make it easier for him to get the courts to compel some kind of paternity testing. You certainly have the right, however, to try and avoid this kind of confrontation as long as possible.
If you have left a relationship and found out you are pregnant, you are not required to disclose your pregnancy. If you are pregnant, though, you should know that you may have a difficult road ahead in terms of getting divorced in a timely manner and dealing with child custody issues. It is vital that you work with an experienced attorney to figure out what to do next, including figuring out whether or not it’s in your best interest to go ahead and disclose the pregnancy. This is a question only you can answer, but the information you receive from your attorney can allow you to weigh your options and determine what’s going to be best for both you and your future child.