When couples decide to end their marriage, there may be additional considerations if one spouse is pregnant. In opposite-sex marriages, the couple must wait until after the child is born to finalize their divorce. This is because orders for custody and support of the child must be included in the Final Decree of Divorce, and the judge cannot make those orders until after the child is born.
If the husband is the child’s genetic father, then orders for custody and support of the child must be included in the Final Decree of Divorce. The judge cannot make those orders until after the child is born. However, if the husband is not the child’s genetic father, then paternity of the child must be established before you can finish your divorce. Paternity cannot be established until the child is born.
Paternity refers to the legal identification of a child’s father. When paternity is established, the child’s genetic father becomes the child’s legal father with all of the rights and duties of a parent. Paternity can be established by legal presumption (when the parents are married), by voluntary acknowledgment, or by court order.
When the husband is not the genetic father, there are two ways to establish paternity. The first way is through voluntary acknowledgment and denial of paternity. In this case, the child’s genetic father and mother sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) stating that the man is the child’s genetic father and the husband signs a Denial of Paternity (DOP), stating that the husband is not the child’s genetic father. Both forms must be completed and filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit for the process to be valid.
The second way is through a court order. The husband, the child’s mother, the child’s genetic father, or another authorized person or entity can file a paternity case to ask for a paternity order. The judge will order genetic (DNA) testing as part of the paternity case. When the judge signs the paternity order, the child’s genetic father becomes the child’s legal father with all the rights and duties of a parent, and the husband’s rights and duties as a parent are ended.
If you have a same-sex marriage between two women, it’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer familiar with LGBTQ+ family issues if either spouse is pregnant. The law in this area is unsettled.
The Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) and the Denial of Paternity (DOP) can be completed at the hospital when the child is born. The hospital will then file them with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit for you. You can also complete them before or after the child is born at a certified entity, such as a local birth registrar or child support office.
It is important to note that you will need a certified copy of the completed AOP and DOP form for your divorce.
Another important aspect to consider when either spouse is pregnant during a divorce is the issue of child custody. In most cases, the court will award joint legal custody to both parents, meaning that both parents have the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing and welfare. However, the court may award primary physical custody to one parent, meaning that the child will primarily reside with that parent.
When deciding on child custody, the court will consider the best interests of the child. Factors that are taken into consideration include the child’s age, health, and emotional and physical needs. The court will also consider the parenting abilities and stability of each parent.
It’s important to note that the court will prioritize the well-being of the child above the desires or wishes of the parents. Therefore, it’s important for both parents to be prepared to present evidence of their ability to provide a safe and loving environment for the child.
Additionally, if either spouse is pregnant, it’s important to consider the issue of child support. The court will order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. The amount of child support is determined based on the income of both parents, as well as the needs of the child. It’s important to note that child support payments will continue until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in most states.
In some cases, one spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support, also known as alimony, to the other spouse. The amount and duration of spousal support is determined by the court and is based on factors such as the income and earning potential of both spouses, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage.
In summary, when either spouse is pregnant, the process of divorce may be a little more complicated. It’s important to understand the laws and procedures surrounding paternity, as well as the rights and duties of each party involved. The court will prioritize the well-being of the child in any custody or support decisions. It’s important to seek the advice of a lawyer and to be prepared to present evidence of your ability to provide a safe and loving environment for the child.