Fact Finders: Pregnant women, divorce law in Missouri & Arkansas
Can a pregnant woman finalize a divorce?
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A social media post is going around social media. It says, Fact: Pregnant Missourians Can’t Get a Divorce. So on this Fact Finders, one of our viewers asked, “can a pregnant woman finalize a divorce?”
A pregnant woman can file for divorce in Missouri. But, if a woman is pregnant, the state’s courts want to finalize all issues related to a child. That will include child custody and child support. So, in Missouri, if individuals are married, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child at the time of birth.
“And so with that presumption as a part of the divorce, the court would be required to address child support and child custody. So the child has to be born before a divorce can be finalized,” explained Attorney Shannon Grisham of Pratt & Grisham.
The rules are much the same in Arkansas. Kevin Hickey of Kevin Hickey Law says the courts will not finalize a divorce for a married couple if the wife is pregnant. The courts want to wait until after the baby is born to address issues such as child support.
It’s not the same in every state. The ACLU challenged this law in Washington state in 2009 on behalf of a woman whose husband became abusive. In a media release, The ACLU noted that “the state’s Equal Rights Amendment absolutely prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington, added at the time, “The court’s ruling reaffirms a woman’s right to make her own decision about when to seek a divorce, regardless of her child-bearing status.”
So, the meme is partly correct for Missouri and Arkansas. A married pregnant woman can file for divorce. However, on the specific question, can a pregnant woman finalize a divorce in Missouri or Arkansas? The answer is NO. She can’t finalize the divorce until the child is born.
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