In most states, there aren't any laws that prevent married couples from getting a divorce during pregnancy. In Texas, though, a divorce can not be completed when one spouse is pregnant. If you are eager to end your marriage but have learned that you're pregnant, the idea of lying about pregnancy during divorce may have crossed your mind.
What happens if you don't disclose that you are pregnant during a divorce? Are there any potential consequences?
During a Texas divorce, you will be asked about unborn children on your Divorce Petition and before the divorce is finalized. If you intentionally lie, you are technically committing perjury. Perjury is a serious crime that can come with severe consequences.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about pregnancy and divorce in Texas.
You cannot get divorced in Texas if one party is pregnant in an opposite-sex marriage. The situation is not as clear-cut for same-sex marriages, so it's best to speak with a lawyer if either spouse is pregnant.
In terms of opposite-sex marriages, you will have to wait to complete your divorce until after the child is born. Here's what happens depending on whether or not the husband is the genetic father of the child:
The term paternity refers to the legal identification of the biological father of a child.
When it is determined who the genetic father is and paternity is established, the biological father then becomes the legal father of the child. This means he will have all of the rights and duties of any other parent.
There are three ways that paternity can be established:
Are you wondering how long you'll have to wait to get married after your current marriage is dissolved? Check out our post about how long after divorce you can remarry in Texas.
What happens if the husband in the divorce proceeding isn't the father of the child?
There are two different ways that paternity can be established in this type of circumstance:
The parties involved can establish paternity by voluntary acknowledgment when everyone is in agreement.
Once both of these documents have been signed, they are filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. At this point, the following happens:
The AOP and DOP can either be different forms or one form. They do not need to be signed and filed simultaneously. However, both must be completed and filed before either is valid.
If paternity cannot be established voluntarily, the other option is through a court order.
A paternity case can be filed to request a paternity order.
The following parties can file this type of case:
DNA testing will then be ordered if necessary. Once paternity has been established, the judge will sign the paternity order. In Texas, this is known as an Order Adjudicating Parentage.
Once the order is signed, the following occurs:
Paternity orders can include child support, visitation, custody, and medical and dental support orders. However, these orders aren't required to be a part of the paternity order.
You can complete the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) and the Denial of Paternity (DOP) when the child is born at the hospital. When you sign the forms at the hospital, the hospital will then file them with the Vital Statistics Unit.
You can also complete these forms before or after the birth of the child. You will need to sign them at a certified entity, such as a child support office or a local birth registrar. You can use this tool from the Attorney General of Texas' site to find certified entities near you.
In order to get a court order that establishes paternity, you'll need to file a paternity case. This is a very complicated process. Rather than going it alone, you might want to hire a private lawyer or open a case with the Office of the Attorney General.
If you live in Texas and you want to get a divorce, a pregnancy is going to delay the process. This might make you wonder whether it's worth keeping your pregnancy to yourself to ensure that you can get a swift divorce.
In reality, you do not want to lie about your pregnancy and push the divorce proceedings forward. The divorce petition will ask about unborn children, and this question will come up again before the marriage dissolution is finalized.
If you lie on these forms, you are committing perjury. This is a serious crime that can have very severe consequences.
There are potentially serious penalties for lying as a part of a divorce. When a person willfully tells an untruth after taking an oath, it is generally considered perjury.
Proving perjury can be a difficult matter. It requires that there is actual factual evidence that supports that perjury occurred and was malicious in nature.
Just because perjury isn't always simple to prove, however, doesn't mean it's a risk that is worth taking. The penalties for perjury in family court can range depending on the nature of the offense. Perjury can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, and penalties can range from civil penalties to time in jail.
Judges take the issue of perjury incredibly seriously. A judge in Texas will not be shy about sending someone right to jail in the midst of a divorce trial.
If a judge has already finalized your divorce, but you've recently realized they lied about a pregnancy, it might be possible to reopen the settlement. You have to be able to provide concrete evidence that your spouse intentionally lied, however.
Most divorce judgments have a provision that lets either party reopen the case if one spouse learns that the other deliberately falsified court documents or lied. Deceitful spouses have, in some instances, lost their entire share of the estate once the court determines they intentionally lied.
What does it mean for your divorce if your spouse committed adultery? You can learn more in our article about how adultery in a Texas divorce affects child custody and alimony.
Getting divorced is incredibly stressful. When you add pregnancy into the mix, the situation can feel overwhelming.
Whether you are pregnant yourself or you're concerned that your spouse is lying about pregnancy, it's important to recognize that lying about pregnancy in a Texas divorce can have serious consequences.
When it comes to getting divorced, knowledge is truly power. If you're searching for more resources to help you learn about your rights and responsibilities in a Texas Divorce, make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog.