Divorce and pregnancy are two very emotional times in one’s life. Unfortunately, there are times when a woman will want to divorce while she is pregnant, or her husband will initiate the divorce during this time.
A pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time for a married couple. So why would any couple decide to divorce during this time? Perhaps the couple’s fighting escalated during this time. Maybe the woman was abused or raped. Maybe one or both parties cheated. If the woman cheated, perhaps the baby is not even her husband’s. Maybe the husband did not want a baby, but the woman purposely got pregnant anyway.
Marital problems do not end when a woman gets pregnant. If things are so bad that she is stressed out all the time, then ending the marriage may be the best bet.
Divorcing while pregnant can be complicated. While a married couple in Florida can divorce at any time, even while pregnant, the divorce will not be finalized until the baby is born. The only exception would be if you are pregnant, your husband is not the unborn child’s father, and the father of the child will sign an affidavit stating that he will assume financial responsibility for the child. If you are going through a divorce while pregnant, read on to learn more about what to expect.
What the Law Says
Divorcing while pregnant is a bit different, as the pregnancy will need to be included in the divorce petition. It is presumed that the husband is the biological father of the baby, unless the woman knows differently. A paternity test may be given after the baby is born to establish whom the father is. This is so proper custody and support arrangements can be made.
Child custody will be divided between the parents once the child is born. Child custody and timesharing plans should be made in advance to make the process smoother. If one parent moves during the pregnancy, this will complicate and delay the divorce further.
Preparing for Divorce
Since you cannot finalize your divorce until the baby is born, you have up to nine months to prepare. During this time, you should work on getting yourself ready to become a single mother once your child is born.
The first step is to make sure you and your baby are safe. If the reason for your divorce is domestic violence, get out of the home right away. Stay with a friend or family member. If that is not an option, look for a women’s shelter or crisis center nearby that can take you in. You should also hire a lawyer and get a restraining order. Do not mention divorce to your husband or he could make the situation even worse.
If you want to work on your marriage, attend couples counseling. You and your husband now have a child in common, and he will be in your life for at least the next 18 years, whether you like it or not. You might as well make the best of the situation. Raising a child on your own will no doubt be stressful. Before you file for divorce, see if you can work things out. Pregnancy hormones can make women say and do things they later regret.
You will need support during this time. Not only are you divorcing, but you are carrying a child. Get some emotional support, whether it be through a Facebook group, your friends, your family members or a self-help book. Even seeing a counselor on a weekly basis can be therapeutic. Seek out those who support your decision, which may be controversial to some people. Be sure to tell your doctor about your situation when you go in for pregnancy checkups. He or she can point you in the right direction so you can get the help you need.
Get a Financial Plan in Place
Children are expensive, and you will feel overwhelmed caring for a baby on your own. While you should be able to get child support from your husband, that will not cover all the expenses. Create a budget and factor in new expenses such as diapers, formula and child care. You will need to get a job, if you do not have one already. You may need to find additional work to make sure your bills are paid.
Create a Parenting Plan
Your husband will still be the child’s father once you divorce, so you will need to have a parenting plan in place. This plan will keep everyone on track and let each parent know of their expectations. If you are breastfeeding, you should have primary custody of the baby for now so you two can bond. Short, frequent visits are ideal for babies. Your husband should be able to participate in diaper changes, bath time, and bedtime. The child’s best interests should be kept in mind. If you and your husband cannot agree on a schedule, then get a counselor, judge or lawyer to weigh in.
Seek Legal Help
Pregnancy is an emotional time. Nobody plans to divorce while pregnant, but sometimes the marriage is so bad that a person does not want to wait nine months to start the process.
While Florida does not allow you to finalize the divorce until the baby is born, you can start preparing by learning about the law and establishing financial independence so you can get your newborn off to the best start in life. Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you through this process. Schedule a consultation today. Contact our office at (954) 346-6464.