There is no good time to get divorced, but going through a divorce when you are pregnant can be particularly difficult. You likely don’t want to deal with court dates and uncertainty when getting ready to bring life into the world, even when you know the best thing for you and your baby. If you are divorcing while pregnant, these are four things you need to know.
1. It’s surprisingly common
Pregnancy puts strain on any relationship, even healthy ones. You and your partner may not agree on how to raise the baby, or you may not feel you have the financial or emotional support you need during this intense time. These issues, on top of other common marital issues, make divorce during pregnancy surprisingly common.
You probably feel like you’re alone or like your life is no longer in your control. However, you can rest assured that your child custody lawyer has probably seen this situation before many times. They know what to do and can guide you through the process to alleviate as much stress as possible during this difficult time.
2. Laws vary drastically by state
States determine divorce and child custody laws. Depending on the state, you may have the ability to file either a fault or no-fault divorce. A fault divorce means that only one person caused the deterioration of the union. For this, you will need to prove at least one of the following: mental, physical, or sexual abuse; infidelity; incarceration; or abandonment. If a judge approves your fault divorce, you will have a better argument in child custody and financial matters. However, other states don’t have this option. Some states favor mothers over fathers when it comes to custody, and some states give parents equal rights over the child.
Your child custody lawyer can help you figure out the laws that apply in your state. Divorce is always a stressful time, especially if you’re pregnant during the process, and having a child custody lawyer can help ease your stress and can help you avoid making mistakes that could impact your rights in regard to your child or children. Be honest with your lawyer so that they can give you the most useful advice and guidance.
3. Paternity and child custody
Paternity is handled differently in every state. In many states, the court considers the husband the father if the pregnancy began during the marriage. If the father questions paternity, they can request a paternity petition.
For a child created outside of the marriage, the parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. If someone signs the Acknowledgement of Paternity, they must act as a parent for the duration of their childhood—until the child is 18 or 21, depending on the state—unless you request to vacate the document within 60 days or provide adequate proof of fraud.
Often, you can create your own paternity agreement. However, you must go to court if you can’t agree. Judges divide custody based on the best interest of the child. Most judges assume the child will benefit from having both parents involved unless you prove otherwise.
4. You must co-parent
When you finalize the divorce and child custody agreement, you have a long way to go. While you may want to not talk to your ex ever again, parents are rarely entirely denied visitation rights. Because of that, you and your ex must develop a working relationship to provide your child with the best environment possible. Some exes make this more difficult than others.
Do not let the divorce complicate your life more than necessary. Keep a positive mindset and let your child custody lawyer assist you so that you can focus on your new baby.