If you want a divorce and you find out your wife is pregnant, you might think it will derail the entire proceedings. This isn't necessarily the case if you live in Indiana. The state's family law code accommodates unforeseen life events and complications. You can file for divorce with a baby on the way, but the proceedings might become a little more complicated.
Disclosure of Pregnancy
Indiana's petition for divorce requires disclosure regarding whether your wife is pregnant. If you're sure you're the baby's father, this shouldn't affect the process. If you and your wife agree you're not the baby's father, this is also not a major issue. When granting your divorce, the court will simply state in your decree that the baby is "not a child of the marriage." This absolves you of all responsibility for child support and related obligations, and it curtails any parental rights you might have had with respect to the child.
Presumption of Paternity
Without an acknowledgment by you and your wife that you're not the father, Indiana law assumes you are if the baby is born within 300 days, or 10 months, after your marriage ends. This can present a dilemma if the baby isn't yours but your wife is insisting it is. Unless the biological father comes forward, it leaves you on the hook for child support and other expenses, such as health insurance and work-related child care. If your ex can't work because the child has special needs that require her attention, it could even obligate you for spousal support or alimony.
If you are the baby's father and there's no dispute regarding this, Indiana will finalize your divorce without providing for child support, custody or visitation issues. However, you'll have to go back to court after the baby is born because you'll need an order addressing these things going forward.
If you don't think you're the baby's father, you have the right to prove paternity one way or the other. If the baby's biological father accepts the child as his own, he can sign a paternity affidavit. Under Indiana law, this is usually sufficient to establish him as the father and he would be liable for child support. If this doesn't happen, you can ask the court to order a paternity test. The test must indicate a 99 percent probability that you're the baby's father before the court will accept that you are.
References & Resources
- Harden Jackson: Divorce Basics
- Indiana Legal Services: What Does it Mean to File for Divorce? (PDF)
- State of Indiana: Chapter 7 – Presumption of Paternity
- State of Indiana: Establishing Paternity (PDF)
- Indiana Injury and Family Lawyer Blog: Alimony a Critical Issue During Divorces in Highland, Elsewhere
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images