It’s unfortunate, but sometimes pregnancy and divorce go hand in hand, and expecting mothers may find themselves splitting from their partners. Because like many other major life events, pregnancy can add tension to even the strongest relationships. Whether expecting parents are concerned about finances, the child’s paternity 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.
How to Handle a Divorce While You’re Pregnant
The following tips will help expecting mothers navigate ending their marriage during this physically and emotionally demanding time in their lives:
Find out if your state will allow you to get divorced while pregnant
For example, in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas the courts will not grant a divorce to a married couple if the wife is pregnant. The courts prefer to wait until after the baby is born to address paternity. The court can then determine if appropriate child-related orders, such as child support, need to be included.
Surround yourself with a supportive entourage, and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help
It is okay to ask for help with cooking meals, household chores, childcare for your other children, or just ask for a listening ear so you can process your emotions. A strong support system will help you get through this emotionally taxing experience. Accept as much assistance as you need while you work through your divorce – to help reduce stress to yourself and your unborn baby. It is also okay to continue to ask for help after the baby arrives— don’t be afraid to ask family and friends if they can take the baby for a few hours so you can get some sleep.
Hire a good lawyer
This means finding a lawyer that specializes in family law and divorce. Because family law involves a wide range of family issues including marriage, divorce proceedings, legal custody and adoption, distribution of assets and ownership of property acquired before and during the marriage, and much more, it’s crucial to find a lawyer that has specialized knowledge. A board certified family lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate state laws and codes and the trials and appeals of family law cases. By hiring knowledgeable counsel, you will save time and stress because they can help you understand your rights, determine the best course of action for your unborn baby’s custody, and break down the legal jargon for you.
Create a co-parenting plan
Both parents should be involved in a child’s upbringing, so you and your partner should create a shared parenting plan that works for you. You will have a lifetime of dealing with the other side even after a divorce if you have children, so try and start on the right foot with flexibility and generosity.
Realizing that your marriage must come to an end can be devastating at any time—but even more so when you’re expecting. Having a baby is stressful, and the experience can challenge even the best of marriages. A baby’s birth 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. While this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, sometimes you just know that your marriage isn’t working, and pregnancy is not a valid reason to remain in an unhappy relationship.
If you are thinking about ending your relationship with a baby on the way, speak with a family lawyer about your circumstances. An experienced family law lawyer will help you understand your options and rights, now and after your baby is born.
About the Author
Kris Balekian Hayes has more than 20 years of experience practicing family law. She is a board certified family law attorney and is a credentialed mediator in all civil, family and CPS matters. Today she serves as managing partner of Balekian Hayes, PLLC based in Dallas, TX.