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Missouri Bans Pregnant Women from Getting a Divorce

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By Christian Webster - - 5 Mins Read
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Pregnant | freestocks/Unsplash

Missouri’s approach to divorce, particularly concerning pregnant women, has come under scrutiny recently.

Existing laws dictate that judges cannot finalize a divorce if the woman involved is pregnant.

This restriction, echoed in a few other states like Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas sparked widespread discussions.

Under these laws, while pregnant women can file for divorce, courts are mandated to delay the finalization until after childbirth.

This delay extends to determining child custody and child support arrangements, leaving women in potentially harmful or abusive situations until they give birth.

Representative Ashley Aune, who represents District 14 in Platte County, Missouri, has taken steps to address this issue.

Aune introduced a bill in the legislative session aimed at removing the pregnancy barrier in finalizing divorces or separations.

She argues that the current law, while perhaps well-intentioned in ensuring the welfare of children, fails to account for the realities of modern times and the complexities of domestic abuse.

“I just want moms in difficult situations to get out if they need to,” Ashley Aune said.

The proposed bill seeks to empower women, particularly those facing domestic violence, by allowing them the agency to seek divorce without being hindered by pregnancy.

Aune emphasizes that the legislation aims to provide support for mothers in difficult situations and to offer them viable options for escaping abusive relationships.

The need for reform is underscored by testimonies from survivors of domestic violence.

Aune narrated the story of a woman who shared her harrowing experience during a committee hearing.

This woman detailed how she felt trapped in an abusive relationship while pregnant, unable to seek a divorce due to existing legal barriers.


A pregnant woman; dark background
Pregnant | Daniel Reche/Pixabay


"When she found out she was pregnant and asked a lawyer if she could get a divorce, she was essentially told no. It was so demoralizing for her to hear that. She felt she had no options,” Aune narrated.

Statistics from Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services further illuminate the prevalence of domestic abuse among pregnant women.

Out of over 10,000 women surveyed, nearly 5% reported experiencing abuse either before or during pregnancy.

These figures underscore the pressing need for legal reforms to safeguard the well-being and safety of pregnant women in marital disputes.

Also Read: Husband Ends Marriage After Wife Loses Her Breast to Cancer


Matthew Huffman, representing the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, asserts that the current laws can perpetuate abusive dynamics, particularly through reproductive coercion tactics.

Huffman stresses the importance of enabling women to exercise their right to divorce without fear of retaliation or further coercion from abusive partners.

Anna Spoerre, a writer for Kansascity.com, shared an anecdote highlighting the dire consequences of Missouri’s current divorce laws.

Keaton’s mother endured prolonged abuse due to the inability to finalize her divorce while pregnant, ultimately enduring additional suffering before successfully obtaining a divorce.

In light of the Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, making abortion illegal in Missouri, attention has refocused on related reproductive rights issues, including the barriers faced by pregnant women seeking divorce.

While efforts to address these issues are underway, the road to legislative change remains uncertain.