Separating while pregnant is a very emotional and traumatic process. You need a lot of support, and a good divorce attorney will help you make the best of a bad situation.
A judge cannot delay the divorce process because one of the partners is with child. In fact, when the petition for divorce is filed, the form asks if one of the partners is pregnant. In the eyes of the law, the other party is by default the legal parent regardless of whether he really is the biological parent.
Once the petition is filed and the petition response is received, the matter of pregnancy receives full attention. Specifically, the parties can use disestablishing parentage to determine who the legal parents are before the divorce is finalized. While strictly not required, an attorney can help you work through this while keeping your welfare and rights intact.
You can disestablish parentage so that the other spouse is not considered a legal parent in two ways.
(1) You Can Include Disestablishment in the Divorce Petition or Response
If you are the party filing for divorce, then within the Petition for Divorce write that you want to disestablish parentage of the other partner. You will need to signal this motion by writing it in the segment made available for other requests.
On the other hand, if you are the one responding to the Petition for Divorce, you write it in your Response to Petition about a Marriage. Your response should clearly state that you want to disestablish parentage and that it should be included in the final court order on the divorce.
(2) Alternatively, You Can Also File a Petition to Annul Presumed Parentage
If you intend to use this alternative, then you must prove to the court that your partner should not be recognized as the legal parent of the child. In most cases, you have to prove that:
- You were not living together during the time that the child was conceived and that there was no sexual intercourse between the both of you during the time the child was conceived.
- Or, genetic testing can be used to establish who is and who is not recognized as the parent of the child.
If the child was conceived using alternative methods of reproduction like sperm donation, then the court will focus on the intent to parent the child rather than on who is a biological parent.
Child Support and Parenting Plan
While you will be unable to get a child support plan during pregnancy, you can file for this after the child is born. The court will include this motion, which also called “reserving the issue,” in the final divorce order. In most cases, however, at least these two things must be established:
- A spouse is pregnant during the divorce and there is common knowledge of this.
- And, it has been agreed that the other partner will be a legal parent.
Pregnancy and divorce are complicated matters that are also sensitive. It is best to work together with a Bothell divorce attorney so that all grey areas are well understood.
Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.