There have been a lot of changes in state laws around pregnancy in recent months. So when stories hit social media that a handful of states, including Texas, don’t allow couples to divorce if one spouse is pregnant, many people assumed it was something new.
In fact, it’s not new – and it’s not actually part of Texas law. The Texas divorce petition that must be completed (truthfully) when someone files for divorce does ask if the wife is pregnant. It is standard operating procedure for Texas judges not to sign off on a final divorce decree for an expectant couple until the baby arrives. (We’re assuming for the sake of this discussion that there’s no question about paternity.)
Why judges won’t sign off on a divorce until the baby arrives
The reasons that Texas judges typically won’t finalize a divorce until after the baby is born are mostly practical ones. They don’t want to approve a custody or support order for a child who isn’t in the world yet. An unexpected health issue for the child (or the mother) during or after the birth could be an important factor in these orders.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that a couple has to continue to live together during the pregnancy. Certainly, if there’s an issue of abuse, a spouse can get a protective order.
You can still prepare for divorce during the pregnancy
Couples who want to finalize their divorce as soon as possible after the birth can work out all of their property division, custody and support agreements while they wait for the baby to arrive. As noted, though, these may need to be modified before they’re finalized.
If you’re dealing with pregnancy (your own or your spouse’s) and divorce, you’re facing two of the biggest life events a person can experience at the same time. Having experienced legal guidance can help you make the best decisions for yourself and your child.