It is an infrequent occurrence that a pregnant woman goes through a divorce. Pregnancy is a stressful time to begin with. Adding onto that, the negative stresses of a divorce and you have a challenging situation no matter how strong-minded you are. There are probably some significant issues going on in your personal life, to say the least, for a divorce to start while you are pregnant. A divorce can take anywhere from 60 days to one year to complete in some cases, so the odds are decent that if you are pregnant at the start of a topic, you will have your baby before the case is all said and done.
There's not anything wrong with that, however. While a divorce can be filed when pregnant, it cannot be completed until after the baby is born. If your husband is your child's biological father, then orders for custody and child support must be included in the final decree of divorce. However, until your child is born, these orders cannot be included.
On the other hand, if your husband is not the child's biological father, then a paternity test must be completed to establish who the biological father of your child is. There is no way for paternity to be confirmed until your child is born.
Establishing paternity when your husband is not the biological father to your child
There are two ways for you to establish the paternity of your child when your husband is not the biological father. The first is by voluntary acknowledgment and a denial of paternity. This occurs when you and the child's father agree to sign a declaration of paternity (AOP) which states that the man in question is your child's biological father. At the same time, your husband would need to sign a denial of paternity form, which states that he is not the child's biological father. These two forms work in tandem with one another.
Once both the acknowledgment of paternity and denial of paternity is completed and filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit in Austin, your child's biological father would become their legal father. This means that he would have all of the rights and duties of legal fatherhood and conservatorship. Your husband's rights and responsibilities as a parent would end. In Texas, there is a legal presumption that if you have a baby while you are married, your husband is the child's father.
The second way you can establish paternity when your husband is not the biological father to the child is by court order. Your husband, you, and your child's biological father can file a paternity case to ask for a paternity order. The judge in your case may order genetic testing like the kind we described earlier in today's blog post. As soon as the judge signs the paternity order, which is known as an Order Adjudicating Parentage, your child's biological father becomes the child's legal father and has the rights and duties. Likewise, your husband's rights and responsibilities as a parent come to an end.
Many people do not know heading into a paternity case that the order itself can and likely will contain language on subjects beyond conferring paternity rights upon a man other than your spouse. Examples of different charges that are very likely to be held in your paternity order include child custody, visitation, possession, and child support. It is always a good idea to consider whether you (as the legal father to a child) may benefit from the advice of an experienced family law attorney during a case like this.
A genetic test can determine that you are a child's biological father. Your child's mother may agree to your paternity, and her husband could sign a denial of paternity or otherwise participate in a paternity suit. However, when it comes to making sure that you could play a role in your child's life, that is where having an experienced family law attorney by your side can come in handy. Please do not leave it to chance. A free-of-charge consultation with one of the experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can be had at no cost to you and can make a huge difference in your life and that of your child.
Where can you access Acknowledgment of Paternity and Denial of Paternity forms?
All this talk about the acknowledgment of paternity forms and denial of paternity forms may leave you wondering where to get these documents. In most cases, once your baby is born, a nurse or other staff member at the hospital will give these to you to complete while you are recovering after the baby's birth. There are spaces on the form to complete your information and for your child's father to meet his information if he is there with you. Importantly, you can fill out the section if your husband is not the biological father to the child. This form will be necessary for your divorce, as well. Once completed, you should contact the Texas Vital Statistics Unit to obtain a certified copy of the Acknowledgment of Paternity and the Denial of Paternity to be filed along with any paperwork in your divorce.
If you do not complete the forms at the hospital, they can be completed at various approved locations, such as at your local child support office. You can contact the Texas Attorney General's Office to determine where the closest location is to you and then head there to complete the forms with the child's father. If the father and your husband choose not to participate in this process, then you will likely need to file a petition to determine pregnancy and go about determining parentage through the courts.
Going to court to get paternity orders
All of the above information is well and good, but it doesn't help you in the sense that you need an order which states that one man is your child's father. The only way to get a court document that states this is to go through the legal process of filing a petition to determine paternity. You, your husband, and the child's biological father can file a paternity case.
Paternity cases can get complicated. If all parties agree that one man is the father and that your husband is not the father, then you probably should have smooth sailing, at least as far as determining legal parentage is concerned. However, if the child's biological father argues that he is not the dad or your husband refuses to participate, the case can get more complicated. For this reason, it is a wise idea to have an experienced family law attorney available to assist you during what can end up being a pretty complicated and complex matter.
Find support from those around you.
On the personal side of things, it will push your physical and mental limits to go through a divorce while pregnant. Not only is your time going to be taken up by issues related to the divorce, but you will also have limitations in terms of your ability to perform specific tasks around the house physically. I would recommend to anyone going through a typical pregnancy to seek help from your support structure. This usually includes a spouse or dedicated partner. Because you are probably not in that position during a divorce, you should seek help and counsel from those around you, like family and friends.
Help with things like preparing meals, cleaning the house, and taking care of any other children is a great place to start. You will probably find that most of these people or excited at the idea of helping you. All it takes is for you to reach out to determine how many people in your circle care to help you as much as possible. An emotionally difficult time for someone going through a divorce is a great time to focus on those areas of your life that are most important to you and serve your family the best.
The importance of having a reasonable attorney
If you are going through a divorce while pregnant, you need to have an experienced family law attorney by your side. There are many different reasons why having an attorney is essential during a divorce. For one, there is a specific process that you need to follow in your divorce case. Not minding that process exactly can both delay your case and cost you a great deal of money in the process. It is better to avoid mistakes and get the case done over a period; as we mentioned before, getting a divorce in Texas is not possible while you are pregnant. However, the divorce also doesn't have to eat up all of your time and puts you in a position where you cannot focus on your health or your child's well-being. Instead, it's a much better idea for you to reach out to an experienced family law attorney and work with them rather than put yourself in a process that you do not understand fully and are liable to make mistakes.
Depending upon your specific circumstances, you may also need to consider what type of custody arrangement you would like for your child. For a newborn child, that is likely that you would need to be able to act as the primary caregiver for an extended period; however, your circumstance may be unique and might require that you think outside the box when figuring out custody, possession, and visitation for your new child.
There may be some significant visitation structures and plans that you had not even considered to this point. As a result, when you need creativity in creating solutions for your family, it makes a great deal of sense to work with a person who has been there and done that. An experienced family law attorney is just the type of person you need in your corner. I have seen people work with attorneys to different degrees within family law cases based on the specific circumstances of their case. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all court order, and your need for an attorney may be different than another person.
For example, what if you need a custody order considered a developmental need that your baby had from birth? You may be in a position where your child needed more time with you or more time with your co-parent, depending upon the specific circumstances. It is always a risk not to have an experienced family law attorney, especially when you have issues like educational and medical needs that should be considered. In that case, having an attorney who can understand what you are going through and plan with you for the future is the best of all worlds.
What financial considerations do you need to give? One of the relevant factors to your divorce, or any divorce for that matter, is the economic costs associated with the divorce. If you are pregnant and are going through a divorce, you need to think about future expenses when you cannot rely upon his income. If you are working full time, this may not be an issue. However, if you either have not been working or stopped working because you are pregnant, this becomes a relevant issue for you in your growing family. Mother, it is more likely that the child will be living with you full time. Your budget will need to change and keep up to date with these circumstances.
Your child needs to receive the care necessary before birth. Prenatal expenses and care sometimes are not fully considered by moms and dads. Keep in mind that if you are on your spouse's health insurance, he cannot take you off the health insurance during the divorce but, if not obligated to keep you on the insurance after the case. It would help if you worked with him to understand how this subject will be handled and what you can do to prepare for the future. Often, issues like this tend to be saved for the very end of a divorce. I would recommend that you consider them fully well in advance so that you encounter no issues or surprises.
The all-important issue of alimony and child support also needs to be considered. Alimony in Texas is known as contractual alimony or spousal maintenance, depending upon if you are the one that negotiates these support payments directly with your spouse or if a judge orders the charges to be made. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you need to be aware that spousal maintenance is usually limited to families where two people have been married for more than ten years. Otherwise, only in situations where violence has recently occurred can a judge order spousal maintenance.
Costs associated with daycare can be overlooked but shouldn't be, especially if you are heading into uncertain times for your future and your finances. A reality of our times is that most single parents must work. This is true even if you are receiving spousal maintenance and child support. You do not want to put yourself in a situation where you rely on either of those forms of support as a majority or sole form of income. Those things are good to have, but unless you can count on your ex-spouse always paying for those items, you should get a job with which you can support yourself and your child.
If you go before a family court judge, they will ask you if you are working or are in the process of applying for work. A statement that you are not working or waiting for a more favorable time to start looking will not suffice. Many family court judges look at an unwillingness to work as a condition that he or they can base not paying out spousal maintenance.
Going through and looking at past tax returns is a great way to plan for a post-divorce budget. Your monthly expenses will undoubtedly change over time and with the new baby coming, but you can look back and track your income as the years have gone by. Any degree of work you can do before the baby is born will help since your time will be stretched thin whenever your child is born.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring, T, X is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.