Women Cannot Finalize A Divorce In Missouri If Pregnant, Representative Ashley Aune Is Seeking To fix That

In the state of Missouri, the existing legal framework prohibits judges from officially concluding a divorce proceeding when a woman is pregnant, a stance mirrored in three other states: Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas. While a pregnant woman retains the right to initiate divorce proceedings in Missouri, the court is compelled to defer final decisions on child custody and support until after the birth.

Pregnant woman holding belly.
Image credit Natalia Deriabina via Shutterstock.

Under Chapter 452.310 of Title XXX of the Missouri Revised Code, a person petitioning for divorce must disclose – among other information – whether or not the wife is pregnant at the time. If she is, the court will not finalize the divorce until after the child is born.

One Woman, One Legislative Bill

Domestic violence cases in Missouri adhere strictly to this policy, allowing no exceptions. Representative Ashley Aune, representing District 14 in Platte County, Missouri, has introduced a bill in the current legislative session aimed at rectifying this issue. Her proposed legislation emphasizes that pregnancy should not impede a judge’s ability to finalize a divorce or separation. Her bill currently has no co-sponsors listed, nor is it scheduled to be heard during this session.

Aune’s motivation stems from a desire to provide support to mothers facing difficult circumstances, ensuring they have the freedom to leave abusive situations if necessary. Despite the original intentions behind the existing law, Aune argues that it requires updating to better align with contemporary societal norms.

Speaking Up On Behalf Of Her Constituents

This initiative was prompted by concerns raised within Aune’s community, where individuals highlighted the detrimental impact of the current legislation. During recent committee hearings, one woman shared a harrowing account of her experiences with abuse during pregnancy, including instances of reproductive coercion. Such stories underscore the urgent need for reform.

According to a report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a significant percentage of women surveyed between 2007 and 2014 reported instances of abuse before or during pregnancy, affecting approximately 5% of respondents.

Support From Anti Domestic Violence Advocates

Advocates like Matthew Huffman from the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence emphasize the life-saving potential of legislative changes. Huffman points out that abusive partners may exploit reproductive coercion tactics to maintain control over their partners, highlighting the critical importance of addressing these issues in the legal framework.

The current law, Huffman explains, revolves around two key factors: establishing paternity and ensuring a child’s rights to parental support and custody. While Aune’s bill represents a step in the right direction, its passage remains uncertain, with Aune expressing skepticism about its chances of reaching Governor Mike Parson’s desk this session.

Nevertheless, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence views this initiative as a top priority, recognizing the pressing need for legislative action to protect vulnerable individuals and families.


  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

    View all posts
  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

    View all posts

Similar Posts