Pregnancy and divorce, unfortunately, can go hand in hand. Many life events can add tension to even the happiest of marriages and adding a new addition to the family certainly ranks among them.
Whether you and your spouse are concerned about finances, the paternity of the child is in question, or the new baby merely adds more tension on top of a pressure cooker of emotions, divorce may be on the table.
If you are pregnant and considering divorce, you may be filled with questions, such as how will you and your baby fare on your own, and where on earth will you go from here?
The following should help to put your mind at rest when you’re with child and considering marriage dissolution. These discussion points are designed to save you time, money, and stress as you begin the divorce filing process.
Can You Get a Divorce While Pregnant?
In California, the divorce process can be started while the wife is pregnant, but the divorce cannot be finalized until after the child is born. Paternity must also be established before the courts will grant the final divorce decree.
How Common is Divorce During Pregnancy?
The reasons for divorce during a pregnancy may differ from one couple to the next, but may include:
- Arguments about how to raise your child with regards to religion, discipline, etc.
- Infidelity or domestic violence
- Previous thoughts that having a baby would bring you two closer together, but to no avail
- Questions about the paternity of the father
The fact is, having a baby is stressful, and the experience can challenge even the best of marriages. The birth of a baby usually brings about role changes, lifestyle adjustments, and financial struggles that both spouses can find frightening. As the arguments increase, the tension may build, until divorce becomes the clear outcome.
Are You Considering Pregnancy & Divorce Because of Depression?
You should consider if your intent to divorce might be driven by post-partum depression. You might consider single or couples counseling to hopefully resolve any issues before filing for divorce.
PPD is common, particularly with new mothers. Your responsibilities are shifting from yourself to a tiny person who relies on you for every aspect of his or her care. You may wonder how you are going to juggle your new baby and your career. You may fear losing friends and your previous lifestyle, and all the mounting pressure can leave you feeling down in the dumps. Low energy usually follows and the house chores can begin mounting up until everything becomes completely overwhelming, including taking care of the baby and maintaining your marriage.
Talking to someone may help to put your new life as a mother into perspective, helping you deal with the stressors of motherhood in more productive ways.
You can also determine if pregnancy and divorce is something you really want to follow through with. Even if you do file for divorce, getting help with any lingering PPD can help you move on with your life with a clear and level head, putting you and your baby first.
Pregnancy Legal Rights and Questioning Paternity
If you and your spouse question who the father is, you can face important challenges. For instance, if you and your spouse were married when the baby was conceived, then by law, your husband is the child’s legal father. If your spouse accuses you of cheating or if you know that someone else is the father, not your husband, then a paternity test will need to be performed following your child’s birth.
When your baby is finally born, several issues will need to be considered and resolved, including who will get primary custody and visitation, and who will pay child and medical support. There may be delivery expenses to pay for, daycare, and other costs related to your child’s upbringing and care.
If your husband is not the father, or someone else is the father, but the biological father was a one-night stand, this can further complicate matters.
According to California family law:
- The biological father has a statute of two years to petition the court for a paternity test.
- If the biological father asks for a paternity test and the child is deemed his, he may not be entitled to custody, but he is entitled to a visitation schedule. He would also be required to pay child support.
Tips for Coping with Divorce While Pregnant
Even if the paternity of your child is cut and dry, you may have apprehensions about the future. And when you combine all the emotional changes with pregnancy with the dread that comes with divorce, you may begin feeling out of your mind entirely.
Keep the following points in mind to keep a clear head and ease stress as you face pregnancy and the divorce process.
- When separating, consider living in close proximity to your spouse for equal time-sharing with the child.
- Attempt to be civil with your spouse when in the presence of your newborn.
- Compromise on baby planning, including names, room décor, and the support of friends and family.
- Discuss child support and visitation early on, before matters get heated.
- Pregnancy can be isolating. Get a support system of friends and family to surround you.
- Try to let go of resentment so that you can focus on what is best for you and your baby.
- Don’t make any serious decisions when you are overwhelmed.
What is an Easy Way to Reduce Divorce Stress During Pregnancy?
Sometimes it helps to write your thoughts down and expand on them with short exercises. The following categories are important ones for many pregnant and divorcing women. When you have a growing concern, write it down and expand on that thought. Try to find as many solutions as you can so that you can begin taking action to resolve the problems you face.
- Financial concerns: You may wonder how you will pay your bills. Start putting a plan into place, such as potential jobs you can take and maybe family members who can lend a hand. The more options you brainstorm for yourself, the calmer you will begin to feel as you prepare to leave.
- Living on your own and hurting your spouse’s feelings: You may not be able to envision living a lifestyle that involves you undertaking everything all on your own, including caring for the home and your baby, paying bills, and all the rest that goes into the modern lifestyle. If you relied on your spouse for certain chores and tasks, these will now be all on you. However, many people do it and you can too. Believe in yourself and believe that your spouse will eventually find happiness, as will you, as you both move toward the divorce process.
- Social considerations: You may fear upsetting vacation plans or feeling embarrassed in front of friends and family. Realize that those who matter will want what is best for you, and vacation plans can be altered. Nothing is insurmountable, as long as you adequately plan using reason, not emotion.
There is never a perfect time for divorce. And when you are pregnant and considering divorce, your issues may seem like an impossible mountain to climb.
While this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, sometimes you just know that your marriage isn’t working, and pregnancy is no reason to remain in an unhappy marriage.
Can You Collect Child Support While Pregnant?
Finances may be a major reason why you feel so uneasy about leaving while pregnant. As with most states, California holds both parents responsible for the financial well-being of their child. If you divorce during pregnancy, there may be a few issues standing in the way of you collecting child support while you are with child. Paternity is one example. It is difficult to establish the paternity of an unborn child, so child support orders are unlikely to be issued by the court. However, if the father concedes that he is indeed the biological father, child support may be issued. It helps to get the advice of a qualified attorney to help you obtain the child support, and potentially medical support, you need for the benefit of you and your child.
Plus, you deserve answers when the stress is mounting and your divorce looms. A divorce attorney can give you insight into the many areas that may elude you during this difficult crossroads in your life.
Seek the counsel of an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Pregnancy and divorce are two lifestyle changes that are difficult to handle all on their own. Combine the two and you have a recipe that brings about a whirlwind of powerful emotions. If you and your spouse can no longer get along as your due date nears, it is important to seek legal assistance from a compassionate advocate who has your best interests (and those of your child) in mind.
The experienced family lawyers at Griffith, Young, and Lass understand how trying this time is for you. Pregnancy is never easy, and neither is divorce.
To find answers to the many challenging questions you will face, including those surrounding child support, alimony, child custody, and visitation, call a divorce attorney to represent you. Call the offices of GYL in Carlsbad, California, for a free and private consultation.