Question: I want to divorce my wife and when I told her this she told me that she is pregnant. I still want a divorce. Do you have any advice on how I should handle this? Would it be better to begin the proceedings now, file first, or wait until the child is born?
Answer: First, I must preface that I do not practice in Washington. With that said, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Washington to discuss your case strategy prior to filing.
In Wisconsin, you could begin the proceedings, however, the divorce could not be final until after the child was born. Once the child is born, you would be presumed to be the father since the child was born during the marriage. However, you could petition the court for genetic testing in the event you do not believe the child is yours.
Are you sure that the child is yours? If not, you should contact an attorney to begin the process of confirming whether or not the child is yours prior to the court ordering a support obligation. If the child is yours, whether you file now or you file later, your final divorce decree must include provisions which account for the custody, placement, and support of the child.
If your state does allow for a divorce despite the fact your wife is pregnant, you should make sure you take into consideration the insurance implications. Insurance companies typically end coverage after the court enters a Judgment of Divorce. As such, if you are the father, you could be held responsible for the medical bills.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.