Pregnant Woman Denied Divorce
SPOKANE, Wash., Jan. 1, 2005
(AP) A judge has refused to grant a divorce to a pregnant woman trying to leave her husband two
years after he was jailed for beating her, ruling instead that she must wait until the child is
Shawnna Hughes' husband was convicted of abuse in 2002. She separated from him after the attack
and filed for divorce last April. She later became pregnant by another man and is due in March.
Her husband, Carlos, never contested the divorce, and the court commissioner approved it in
October. But the divorce papers failed to note that Hughes was pregnant, and when the judge
found out, he rescinded the divorce.
"There's a lot of case law that says it is important in this state that children not be
illegitimized," Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine told The Spokesman-Review newspaper on Thursday.
Hughes' attorney, Terri Sloyer, said nothing in state law says a pregnant woman cannot get a
"We don't live in 15th-century England," said Sloyer, who has appealed.
Under Washington state law, a husband is presumed to be the father of any child born within 300
days of a divorce. The judge argued that the paternity of the child needs to be determined
before a divorce can be finalized.
Hughes has stated in court records that her boyfriend is the child's father, and that the
judge's decision prevented her from marrying him.
"She has the right to divorce and be free to marry whoever she wants," Sloyer said. "It's about
the choice, the fundamental right to choose."