Going through a divorce while pregnant is rarely planned. However, there are several things you should take into consideration and work with an experienced divorce attorney.
The pregnancy may have been unexpected and only become known after you and your spouse separated. Or, you may have discovered a reason to divorce while pregnant. Whatever your unique circumstances, we understand that pregnancy makes this an even more emotional and difficult process.
Our experienced Ohio divorce attorneys at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co., LPA, are here to help you through it. We will discuss your legal obligations, how custody and support will be handled, and everything related to filing for divorce.
Call (419) 625-7770 for a consultation.
Divorce and Pregnancy in Ohio
Expecting parents often believe that they cannot file for divorce during a pregnancy. This is not true. There is no law in Ohio that limits a person’s right to divorce because a child is on the way.
However, pregnancy can delay a divorce decree. The most common reason is child-related issues, like custody and support.
Many judges do not want to grant a divorce during pregnancy because it forces a parent to go through establishing paternity and requesting child support through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. This can leave a parent without financial support for weeks or months after birth. During a divorce, the judge can issue a child support order that applies right away before finalizing the divorce.
Similarly, by not finalizing the divorce during the pregnancy, the judge can write the child custody and visitation order. This saves parents from having to return to court after the baby is born.
If one of the spouses involved is pregnant, you should talk with an experienced divorce lawyer about how long the process may take and when a judge is likely to finalize a divorce.
7 Considerations for Divorcing While Pregnant
Your Budget on One Income
You should consider the financial ramifications of filing for divorce. Calculate how much you earn and the cost of a living arrangement suitable for you and your child, outfitting a nursery, medical expenses from the birth, and childcare. You need to have a realistic view of your finances and the lifestyle you can afford after divorcing. This calculation also can influence whether you seek alimony.
Is Paternity in Question?
When you file a divorce complaint, you may state that your spouse is or is not the father of the child. You may not need to address this issue if you and your spouse both agree on the child’s parentage. But your spouse might claim they are not the parent if infidelity is an issue. If your spouse denies paternity, a genetic test is necessary. You and your doctor may choose a non-invasive prenatal paternity test or wait for a genetic test after the child is born.
Did You Use Assistive Reproductive Technology?
If you and your spouse used assisted reproductive technology, such as an egg or sperm donor, this could complicate parentage. When your spouse is not genetically related to the fetus, they may claim they are not a parent and will have no responsibility to provide custody and support. The court will often look at how you became pregnant and your intent, as a couple, to decide whether your spouse is a parent in the eyes of the law.
Arranging Child Custody
It can feel impossible to share custody when your child is weeks or months old, but it is possible. You and your spouse can agree to a joint custody schedule. You and your spouse may agree that one of you will have primary custody and the other will visit at certain times. You may choose to wait before the other parent has the infant overnight, though this is not required.
If you cannot reach an agreement, the court can dictate a custody arrangement. If you are the child’s mother, it is important to realize a judge will not automatically grant you sole custody. Though shared custody may be tricky, infants benefit from connecting with both parents and can be fed safely with breastmilk or formula from a bottle.
New or Potential Relationships
You must consider what it will be like to for you and your ex-spouse to forge new relationships while parenting an infant. Your spouse may already have formed a new relationship. You and your spouse should discuss when it will be appropriate to introduce a new person to your child. If you are concerned about this issue immediately, and you and your spouse are not on the same page, you can raise this issue in court.
Including Family Members
A new child is exciting for everyone, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Unless you want to specifically exclude one or more relatives from your child’s life, you need to consider how each side of the family will meet and forge relationships with your child. This is something to navigate with your spouse and consider when arranging shared holidays, birthdays, and other events.
You Will Need Help and Support
Whether you are likely to have sole or joint custody, you will be a single parent. This is challenging, and you will benefit from emotional support and practical help. Lean on friends and family members when you can. Ask for help with grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other chores in the weeks after the birth, especially if you undergo a cesarean section or have complications and need additional rest. If you do not feel you can rely on friends and family for emotional support during the divorce and single parenthood, seek out a support group or parenting resources online or in your area.
Let an Ohio Family Law & Divorce Attorney Help
The family law and divorce lawyers at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co., LPA, understand the practical, legal, and emotional difficulties a divorce while pregnant creates.
We recommend you give us a call to ensure you have an objective and practical view of your circumstances. Let us help in addressing parentage, custody, and support.