How does a pregnancy complicate the divorce process?

Question:Divorce lawyer Leslie Lorenzano

After marrying my wife a few months ago, I found out she is pregnant with another man’s child. I want a divorce and would like to know my responsibilities regarding medical bills for the birth of the child, possible child support, etc.

Also, my mom owns the house we are living in, but my wife refuses to move out. Can she be evicted from the house since it is owned by my mother?

Answer:

Indiana has some rather strict laws regarding establishing paternity, and the court tends to adhere to the laws stringently. That being said, you can try to prove during the divorce proceedings that you are not the father of the child. As I do not know all of the facts of your case, I can only speak in generalities based on my experience with paternity issues in Indiana.

Firstly, your mother can evict your wife from the home. If there is no lease agreement, and the home is not part of the marital estate, i.e. owned by you and your wife, then your mother, as the owner of the home, gets to determine who does and does not live in her home. If she does not want your wife living there, she can evict her.

As for the paternity issue, in Indiana, paternity is established in only a few ways, and once it is established, it can be extremely difficult to change, or “undeclare,” paternity.

Marriage is one way that a presumption of paternity is established; if the couple is married at or within 300 days of the time of the child’s birth, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child in question. Even if the marriage is annulled or voided, the husband is still presumed to be the father. So, in the eyes of the Court, you are presumed to be the father of the child.

However, you can allege in the dissolution proceeding that you are not the father of the child. This is one of the rare times that a father can rebut that presumption of paternity through marriage.

If the child has not been born at the time of filing for dissolution, you should specify in the petition that there were no children of the marriage, or specify that a DNA test will be done at birth showing that you are not the father.

If the child has already been born, you should have a genetic test done through the litigation process to show that you are not the father of the child.

Finally, as for medical bills, in Indiana the father is responsible for at least 50% of medical expenses relating to prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal care.

So if you are deemed the father, you will be liable for at least some of the medical bills from the pregnancy and birth. If you are proven to not be the father, you may be able to avoid liability for the medical bills.

As this is a complex issue, and there is probably a narrow window for you to show that you are not the father of the child in question, I would recommend hiring an attorney to assist you through this process.

Cordell & Cordell has divorce attorneys located nationwide.

 

Leslie Lorenzano is a Staff Attorney in the Indianapolis, Indiana office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Lorenzano is licensed in the state of Indiana and the U.S. District Court Sothern District of Indiana. Ms. Lorenzano received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Purdue University, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law.

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