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Getting Divorced While Pregnant: What to Know

When you get married, you likely intend the union to last forever. Unfortunately, sometimes a marriage does not work out. There are many reasons you may seek to get a divorce. While it is not a common occurrence, there are times when someone wants to get divorced while one partner is pregnant. The convergence of one of the happiest times in your life with one of the most difficult can be challenging. You need to understand the laws that pertain to getting divorced while pregnant in Wisconsin.

Filing a Petition for Divorce

Either party or both parties may file for a divorce in Wisconsin. Wisconsin provides for “no-fault” divorce, which means that parties do not need to have a reason or grounds to end the marriage. When a couple wishes to divorce while one party is pregnant, the process will likely be more complex. One of the questions that you must answer when filing for divorce is whether you are pregnant. While you can file and begin the process, the court will not finalize a divorce until after the birth of the child.

Hold on Divorce Proceedings

If one party is pregnant when they are in the middle of a divorce, the court will need to stay the proceedings. A stay is simply known as a hold on the divorce process until the child is born. This hold is done by the courts to ensure the rights of the child. The courts need to make sure that the child will be properly cared for by his or her parents. In this instance, the child will need to be born, and then the father will be legally established by the court. Both parents will be responsible for the care and well-being of their child.

Presumption of Paternity

In Wisconsin, the husband is the presumptive father of a baby born during the marriage. Specifically, Wisconsin law states that a man is presumed to be the father of a child  “if he and the child’s natural mother are or have been married to each other and the child is conceived or born after marriage and before the granting of a decree of legal separation, annulment, or divorce between the parties.” What this means is that the husband is the father of the child if the couple was married during the time the pregnancy began or when the child was born.

Paternity Testing

In cases where a couple wishes to divorce while one of the parties is pregnant, the court will wait until the child is born. Then, a paternity test will be required. The paternity test will prove the father of the child. At that time, the court will review the issues of child custody, visitation, and support and include those in the divorce order. Only once paternity is established will the court finalize a divorce if a party is pregnant. Paternity is established through DNA testing of the parents and child.

Going through a divorce while you or your partner is expecting a child can be more stressful and complex. An experienced divorce attorney will answer your questions and assist you through the process. Call us today at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Published April 22, 2024
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