It's unfortunate, but sometimes, it happens. You might find yourself splitting from your partner, but you also happen to be pregnant, too. Just because you’re expecting doesn’t mean that you should defer your divorce, though, especially if you have a valid reason for wanting to part ways. Still, it can be challenging to know how to navigate divorce while pregnant. If you’re facing this sticky situation, here's what you need to know.
Sure, divorce can be difficult in and of itself, but then add on a pregnancy and it can be downright devastating. But before you dive right into the divorce proceedings, you’ll need to make yourself (and your unborn baby) the top priority. “First and foremost, you must make certain that the mother-to-be stays healthy both physically and emotionally,” Evan R. Weinstein, Esq. of Weinstein Lindemann & Weinstein, explains to Romper. “The pregnancy exists separate and apart from any marital or interpersonal discord between the parents and the outcome of a divorce is certainly less important than the health of the mother-to-be.”
That said, once you’ve made the definitive decision to divorce, you should set yourself up with a lawyer — stat. “If you are pregnant and considering divorce, you should confer with an attorney immediately,” Tracy Julian, Esq. an attorney with Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, explains to Romper. “It will be important to understand your rights, the rights of the baby, and the rights of the father with regard to custody and parenting time.”
In some ways, pursing a divorce while pregnant doesn’t differ all that much from when you already have children. “The same issues of custody, parenting time, and financial support would exist regardless of whether the mother-to-be has other children,” advises Weinstein. But something that needs to be considered is naming your unborn baby. “Hopefully, consent can be obtained from both parties before child birth as to both the first and last name and how the name will appear on the birth certificate,” says Weinstein. Similarly, if you and your partner have different faiths (or one of you is non-religious), you’ll need to discuss any potential faith-based ceremonies prior to the baby’s birth.
If you’re on good terms with your partner, it's also ideal to communicate your needs and expectations regarding a birth plan and who will be at the hospital for the delivery. “It would be preferable for the parents to agree upon a parenting time schedule for the time period after the baby leaves the hospital as well,” says Julian. “If the parties are unable to agree, it would be best to resolve any disputes regarding these issues prior to the birth of the baby to avoid urgent court applications while welcoming the child into the world.”
Another big factor to take into consideration before entering into divorce proceedings is insurance issues. “If the pregnant person is covered by their spouse's health insurance and they get divorced, that health insurance will be revoked the moment they are divorced,” Russell D. Knight, a divorce lawyer in Chicago, IL, tells Romper. “This could pose a grave risk to both the mother and the unborn child.” So if you are under your spouse’s insurance (and still need the coverage for prenatal visits and to deliver your baby), you might want to hold off on the divorce until after your child is born or you’ve had enough time to get an insurance plan in your name.
If it’s at all possible, you might want to wait until after your baby is born to get a divorce. “Having a baby and having a divorce are both massive undertakings,” says Knight. “And only one of them can wait — the divorce.” So look at the bigger picture (as well as all the fine line details) to determine the correct timing of your divorce. That way, you can ensure that everyone’s rights — especially yours and your baby’s— are protected.
Evan R. Weinstein, Esq. of Weinstein Lindemann & Weinstein
Tracy Julian, Esq. attorney with Pashman Stein Walder Hayden
Russell D. Knight, divorce lawyer in Chicago, IL