Maybe you’d already begun divorce proceedings when you found out there was a baby on the way. Perhaps you and your spouse knew you were going to be parents, but you also knew that you couldn’t remain married. Whatever the situation, divorcing while one of the spouses is pregnant can be a highly emotional experience.
It also presents some unique legal considerations. Let’s look at some key things you need to decide. (Note: We’re assuming here there’s no question of paternity. If that’s not the case, there are other considerations that you’ll need to discuss with your attorney.)
Health insurance for the mother-to-be: Typically, once a couple is divorced, neither spouse has to carry the other one on their health insurance plan. However, if the baby isn’t due to arrive until after the divorce and the mother-to-be depends on her spouse for insurance, that spouse may be ordered to keep them on their plan or help pay for their prenatal care.
Once the child is born, responsibility for their health insurance and their health care expenses will be divided between the two parents or made the responsibility of one parent as part of the cost of child support.
Spousal support: Typically, a spouse who seeks alimony is expected to become at least partially self-supporting after a while. Alimony usually isn’t permanent these days. If the couple can’t work out a time for when alimony will end on their own, the court will need to do it.
A judge probably won’t expect a new mom to go out and look for a job if she isn’t currently employed. If she’s employed but doesn’t have paid family leave, the other spouse will likely be expected to support her until she can go back to work.
Child custody: Custody plans involving infants typically revolve around what’s best for the baby. Often, the mother has sole physical custody in the early months — particularly if she’s breastfeeding. That often involves the other parent coming to their home to spend time with the baby and do their own bonding.
If you and your spouse are divorcing while expecting a baby, you certainly aren’t the first couple to do so. Your family law attorney can provide valuable guidance to help you seek divorce, support and custody agreements that will focus on what’s in the best interests of you and your child.