Pregnant woman sitting on chair holding belly with both hands.


And thank you for reading the world’s shortest blog post, with a question answered in just one 3-letter word. But being a lawyer, the answer does require more explanation.

OK, more seriously, the process for a pregnant spouse to obtain a divorce in Colorado may be more cumbersome, but there is no prohibition. Recently, Missouri has received some press for prohibiting divorce when one spouse is pregnant. And a few Missouri lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to change the law to explicitly allow a divorce with a pregnant spouse.

In Colorado, there is no prohibition on a pregnant spouse obtaining a dissolution of marriage, but as explained below, the process may be more cumbersome.

Missouri Law Not Expressly Ban Pregnant Spouse from Divorce

The notion that Missouri law banned pregnant spouses from obtaining divorces sounded unusual to me, so I dug up the actual law, and Missouri Revised Statute § 452.310(2) merely requires that “The petition in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall set forth a divorce petition… (5) “Whether the wife is pregnant”. Period – nothing in there about no divorce until the child is born.

So the parties have to inform the court of the pregnancy in the petition, but there is no explicit requirement that the court wait until the child is born rather than granting a divorce with a pregnant spouse. After news cycle hype died down, some journalists spoke to Missouri family law attorneys, who clarified that while the law does not bar divorce with a pregnant spouse, the practical reality is that judges wait until the child is born before finalizing the divorce.

But HB 2402 seeks to change the statute to make clear that providing the spouse’s pregnancy status is solely informational for the court, and not a barrier to divorce. It would modify Missouri law in two places, including subsection § 452.310(2) to add the bolded words: “(5) Whether the wife is pregnant; however, pregnancy status shall not prevent the court from entering a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation.”

Colorado Divorce & Pregnant Spouse

Divorce Petition Requires Pregnancy Status

Colorado has adopted the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA), and our law has virtually the same provision as Missouri’s statute. Per C.R.S. 14-10-107(2), “The petition in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and shall set forth… (d) The names, ages, and addresses of any living children of the marriage and whether the wife is pregnant.” (Emphasis added).

(Note that the statute has not been updated with more inclusive terminology such as “whether one spouse is pregnant”, which would be more appropriate given the reality of same-sex marriages and transgender spouses).

Practically speaking, unless the spouses reach lightning-fast agreements, or separate almost immediately after one becomes pregnant, in most cases the divorce process itself may well outlast the duration of a pregnancy.

Hearing Required When No Counsel & Spouse is Pregnant

The statutory requirement for a petition is not the end of the inquiry. Colorado family law has a procedure by which spouses who agree on everything can obtain a divorce or legal separation by submitting the agreement and other paperwork to the court, without having to go to a hearing.

However, C.R.S. 14-10-120.3(1)(a) only allows divorce by “affidavit” when “There are no minor children of the husband and wife and the wife is not pregnant or the husband and wife are both represented by counsel.” (Emphasis added).

So if one spouse is pregnant, spouses can only obtain a divorce in Colorado if either:

  • Both of them have counsel, or
  • They show up to a court hearing to obtain their decree.

This is not an outright prohibition on a pregnant spouse without a lawyer getting a divorce, but it is an procedural barrier. And given the realities of court dockets, having to wait for a hearing increases the chances the pregnant spouse gives birth before the hearing could even be conducted.

Divorce Issues with a Pregnant Spouse

Fetus floating in clouds with scales of justice

While rare, the attorneys at Graham.Law have represented spouses in divorce cases with a pregnant spouse, and finalized the dissolution while that spouse was still pregnant.

Sometimes the spouses agree it makes more sense to defer the final decree until the child is born, other times they just want to finalize the divorce, and then once the child is born, separately address the issues raised by birth.

And there are very real legal issues which need to be addressed once a child is born, including:

  • Parenting time & decision-making
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Maintenance (if one parent stops working to be primary caregiver over the newborn)
  • Parentage (if the child is born after the marriage ends)

If delaying the divorce decree by a few months would mean wrapping up all issues in one hearing, that may make more sense than rushing through a divorce when one spouse is pregnant, then later having to return to court to address the issues surrounding the child.

Cannot Force Pregnant Spouse to Remain in Colorado

Finally, a quick lesson on the perils of filing for divorce when the couple has no children, but one spouse is pregnant. I had a case several years ago where neither spouse was actually a Colorado native, but were living here solely due to the husband’s military service.

The husband filed for divorce when the wife was about 3-4 months pregnant, and since her entire family and support chain was on the east coast, she moved back to her home state before the child was born (note that this is fine – the statutory injunction in C.R.S. 14-10-107(4)(b)(I)(C) prevents a spouse from removing a child from the state w/o the other party’s consent or a court order, but does not prevent a pregnant spouse from leaving).

But the wife moving meant their child was born in another state, halfway across the country, where the husband had no ties. And under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act, even though Colorado had jurisdiction to grant the divorce, only a court in the state where the child was born has subject-matter jurisdiction to enter parenting orders over a newborn.

The husband and his attorney realized the problem too late, and filing for divorce backfired on him. Once the child was born, the husband had to seek a parenting order in the state where the wife had moved to. Had he waited until the child was born before mentioning the “D” word, then the wife would have needed the husband’s consent or permission from the Colorado court to move the child to another state.

The takeaway? While it’s permissible to get a divorce while one spouse is pregnant, there are a lot of reasons why it may make sense to delay either filing the case until the child is born, or at least waiting to finalize the case until after birth. But even then, there’s no harm in getting the divorce process started sooner, even if you wait to finalize it.

Award-Winning Southern Colorado Divorce Lawyers

pregnant spouse

U.S. News & World Report calls Graham.Law one of the Best Law Firms in America, and our managing partner is a Colorado Super Lawyer. Our family law attorneys have years of experience helping clients navigate the Colorado legal system. We know Colorado divorce & family law inside and out, from complex multi-million dollar property or child custody cases to basic child support modifications.

For more information about our top-rated El Paso County family law firm, contact us by filling out our contact form, calling us at (719) 630-1123 to set up a free consult, or click on:

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