Already a stressful legal process and busy time in one’s life, the divorce process can become even more complicated if you find out you are pregnant. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce and the status of your relationships with your spouse, the pregnancy may cause you to reconsider the divorce and try to work things out. However, if your marriage is beyond repair, there are a range of important issues you should consider, including how to successfully navigate a divorce while you are pregnant, and the proactive steps you should take to ensure that your legal rights are protected. A dedicated divorce lawyer will guide you through every step of the divorce process and address any custody or parenting concerns you might have.
Should I Avoid Getting a Divorce If I Am Pregnant?
Every couple has different reasons for pursuing a divorce. For example, some couples cite irreconcilable differences, saying that they have drifted apart and no longer feel the same way about each other. Other couples divorce because one spouse was abusive, became addicted to drugs or alcohol or was unfaithful. Keep the following in mind when deciding whether or not to proceed with a divorce:
- Avoid making major decisions when you are feeling overwhelmed. Even if you and your spouse were having marital problems before finding out about your pregnancy, you do not want to make a major life decision when you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of getting a divorce and becoming a single parent. Consider whether it is in your best interest to put yourself through the stress of a divorce while you are pregnant.
- There are benefits to raising a child with two parents. Research suggests that children benefit from living in a home where both parents are present. According to one study, children of divorce are more likely to experience poverty and emotional issues. Teen pregnancies are also more prevalent among children of single parents. In addition, single mothers are more likely to suffer from physical and mental illnesses and addictions.
- Going through a pregnancy alone can be difficult. Even if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, it takes a physical and emotional toll, from morning sickness and mood swings to your changing body and concerns about your baby’s health. Going through a pregnancy without the support of a partner can be very challenging, particularly if you experience any physical or emotional challenges over the course of your pregnancy.
Am I Legally Allowed to Get a Divorce While Pregnant?
In some states, courts will not grant a divorce if the wife is pregnant. The couple must wait until the baby is born, at which time the child’s paternity can be confirmed and child support and parenting issues can be resolved. However, in New Jersey, this is not the case. You and your spouse may seek a divorce even if you are pregnant.
How Will My Pregnancy Impact the Divorce?
If you have thoroughly considered the pros and cons of getting a divorce while pregnant and you intend to proceed with a divorce, there are a number of factors that you should consider, including the impact your pregnancy may have on the outcome of the divorce. A dedicated divorce lawyer will help you navigate the divorce process and address the following key issues:
- Custody and child support issues cannot be resolved until the baby is born. While a judge may grant you a divorce while you are still pregnant, you cannot finalize child support and custody issues until the baby is born, unless the baby is born while the divorce is in progress. This ensures that paternity, child support, custody and other important issues are addressed as seamlessly as possible.
- Pregnancy can affect paternity resolutions. From a legal perspective, if your baby is born within ten months following your divorce, it is assumed that he is the baby’s biological father. However, if your husband does not want to take responsibility for the child for some reason, he can sign a waiver of paternity. Your spouse may also file a court action for paternity disestablishment, which will disestablish his support and custody responsibilities.
How Can I Successfully Navigate a Divorce While Pregnant?
If you have made the difficult decision to proceed with a divorce, despite being pregnant, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate the process as seamlessly as possible and negotiate a fair settlement. In addition, there are proactive steps you can take to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, including:
- Make sure that you have an emotional support system in place. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you are more likely to suffer from prenatal depression if you are divorced while you are pregnant, so it is highly recommended that you seek counseling during and after the divorce. It is also a good idea to ensure that you have family and close friends nearby who can provide emotional support, attend doctor’s appointments with you, and make sure that you have the support you need throughout your pregnancy and after the baby is born.
- Have a co-parenting plan in place. Even if your relationship with your spouse did not work out, it is in everyone’s best interest if both parents play a significant role in the child’s life, unless your spouse has a history of violence, abuse, drug or alcohol addiction or other behavior that could jeopardize the health and safety of your and the child. Establish a co-parenting strategy that allows you and your spouse to actively participate in the child’s life.
- Create a financial plan. This should address everything from your basic financial needs, including spousal support, child support and monthly expenses to changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts and dissolving joint accounts. Having an income safety net in place will enable you to plan ahead and ensure that you do not run out of money during an emergency.
- Try to maintain a civil relationship. Even babies pick up on the negativity and emotional turmoil that may exist between you and your spouse. Try to set your differences aside when you are in the presence of your child and treat each other with civility and respect.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Pregnant Clients Navigate the Divorce Process
If you are pregnant, and you have decided to file for divorce, do not hesitate to contact the Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Freehold, and Morristown, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.