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August 4, 2005

Divorced from reality

In Washington state, you just can’t keep a bad law down:

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – In a case that outraged women’s rights groups and prompted a change in state law, an appeals court has sided with a judge who voided a woman’s divorce because she was pregnant.
The appeals court ruled Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine was correct in vacating the divorce order because Carlos Hughes and the state had not been properly notified of Shawnna Hughes’ pregnancy.
“Requiring Ms. Hughes to fairly give due notice and an opportunity to be heard to Mr. Hughes and the state will cause delay,” the appeals panel wrote Tuesday. “But, just delay is not justice denied.”
Bastine’s November ruling cited a state law that says marriages cannot be dissolved in such cases until the paternity of the unborn child is established, so the state knows who should pay child support.

Never mind that Carlos Hughes was in jail for domestic violence when Shawnna Hughes filed for divorce, was already under a court order to keep away from his wife, did not contest the divorce, and was not the child’s father.

As a result of the case, Washington now prohibits judges from denying or delaying a divorce solely on the basis of pregnancy. Although that hasn’t helped Shawnna Hughes, who now may or may not be married.

Posted by Stephen at 1:00 AM in Legal issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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