Divorce Denied

Governor signs bill allowing pregnant women to divorce

Washington state's governor has signed a bill designed to keep judges from denying women divorces because they're pregnant.

The bill was inspired by the plight of Shawnna Hughes, a Spokane woman seeking to divorce a husband who she said had abused her. A Spokane County judge revoked her divorce because she was pregnant. The judge held that state law said marriages cannot be dissolved until the paternity of the unborn child is established, so the state knows who should pay child support.

The bill signed by Governor Christine Gregoire adds two sentences to state law, clarifying that judges can't use pregnancy as the sole basis for denying or delaying a divorce.

The new law won't actually help Hughes, whose appeal is scheduled for oral arguments next month. She's given birth to a healthy baby girl.