When a couple feels compelled to divorce, the timing of other major life events can further complicate an already stressful situation. If a woman is pregnant when she realizes her marriage is about to end, this can be an incredibly difficult situation. The divorcing couple will need to divide their property, account for the children they already have, and prepare for the child coming soon.
Women in this situation often experience a dizzying mix of anger, isolation, depression, and concerns about the future of their children. Many mothers rely on their spouses to provide income during the end of pregnancy and first few months of a new child’s life, and a single new mother may not have this same security.
How to Prepare for Divorce While Pregnant
One of the best steps to take when facing divorce while pregnant is to hire a divorce attorney. Your attorney can handle your legal issues and keep you up-to-date with the latest developments in your case while you focus on staying healthy and preparing for your child’s due date. An attorney can offer advice for navigating employment issues, handling your many doctors’ visits, and ensuring your child’s financial security.
If there are any concerns about the child’s paternity, or if the mother is unsure whether her pregnancy will influence divorce proceedings, the only way a pregnancy may interfere with divorce negotiations is the judge reviewing the case may delay a final ruling until the child is born and paternity established.
Developing a Divorce Agreement With a Baby Coming
In most cases, the judge reviewing a divorce case with a pregnant mother will consider the yet-to-be-born child as any other child the couple already has. The court has a duty to rule in the best interests of a divorcing couple’s children, and this includes ensuring the welfare of the unborn child. The child’s father may request a paternity test, or the child’s mother may request one if the father attempts to deny parentage. If the couple has been living separately for a while or if infidelity played any role in the ending of their marriage, it could be in the husband’s interests to request or submit to a paternity test.
If the husband in the divorce is the father of the unborn child, he will have a financial obligation to that child once he or she is born. The parents will need to decide how to co-parent their new baby and what type of role each parent will have in the child’s life. The parents should not only strive for a mutual agreement in their child’s best interests but also document their agreement in the divorce negotiations so there is a clear record of their understanding.
Child Support and Visitation for Newborns
The divorce agreement will also include child custody provisions for the baby including the father’s obligations for prenatal care and participation in checkups and other events leading up to the child’s birth. In almost all cases the mother will have majority custody of the newborn for the beginning of his or her life since infants biologically require their mothers more than their fathers, but the father can still ensure he has adequate time to spend with the newborn by stipulating custody and visitation rights in the divorce agreement.
Once the court positively establishes paternity and the father assumes the parental role over a newborn, the parents can decide on a child support, custody, and visitation agreement to account for the next several years of the child’s life. Each spouse may also request modifications in the future, and they may decide upon the terms of modification in advance if they deem it necessary.