On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that provided a constitutional right to abortion nationwide. That same day, Missouri’s abortion ban became law. It prohibits abortions in the state “except in cases of medical emergency.”
In the weeks following the state’s abortion ban, multiple posts (here, here, and here) have spread on social media claiming pregnant women can’t get a divorce finalized in Missouri until after the baby is born. Online searches show many people are wondering if these claims are true or false.
Can you get a divorce finalized while pregnant in Missouri?
No, you cannot get a divorce finalized while pregnant in Missouri.
WHAT WE FOUND
Under Missouri law, when a person files a petition for divorce in the state, their paperwork must include certain information such as the date of separation, the residence of each party, custody and child support arrangements for any existing children, and “whether the wife is pregnant.” The law went into effect in 1973 and has been amended as recently as 2016.
The “whether the wife is pregnant” phrase is included in the law because the state of Missouri will not grant a divorce to a married couple if the wife is pregnant, according to the American Pregnancy Association, a national health organization that promotes reproductive and pregnancy wellness.
The nonprofit says Missouri courts prefer to wait until after the baby is born to address paternity and to determine whether child support or child custody arrangements need to be included in the finalization of the divorce.
Missouri law firm Deputy & Mizell, L.L.C also says a divorce cannot be legally finalized in the state of Missouri if the wife is pregnant.
The law firm says spouses can still file for divorce and begin handling certain aspects of the divorce process, such as the division of assets and debts and the custody agreement for any existing children, but “the divorce cannot be finalized until after the baby is born.”
“The court has to wait until the new baby arrives before they can finalize child custody/child support orders for the infant,” Deputy & Mizell explain.
Outside of Missouri, a few other states, including Arizona, Arkansas and Texas, have similar divorce laws in place, according to the American Pregnancy Association and local law firms. There are currently no proposed or pending amendments in Missouri to overturn the law at this time, Attorney Dan Mizell, owner and manager of Deputy & Mizell, told VERIFY.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.