Divorce and Pregnancy: Are There Special Legal Considerations?
Divorces are emotional. So are pregnancies. When the two occur simultaneously, the emotional rollercoaster can lead to legal rights being overlooked and abandoned. During pregnancy, for both divorcing spouses, there are specific legal considerations that need to be accounted for.
Raising a child is filled with unique first moments and bonding experiences. Because of this, scheduling bonding time with newborns and infants that require regular and frequent feedings can often create extreme tension. In addition to scheduling infant bonding time after the birth, figuring out the health care costs, and alimony, are the other big concerns.
Matters of Health Care
Health care is rather important during pregnancy. Generally, when spouses divorce, they are not required to maintain health care coverage for their former spouses, such as through employer health care plans. However, a court may order that a spouse contribute to the health care costs of a pregnant spouse until the birth of the child. In cases where the non-pregnant spouse is not the father, or intended parent, this may complicate things.
After the birth, the costs of health care may be considered as part of the costs of raising the child and factored into a child support and custody order. As such, it is the responsibility of both parents, however, usually, the parent with better, or more cost effective, health care coverage options will assume the responsibility.
Generally, spousal support or alimony is designed to be a temporary remedy to help a divorcee achieve financial independence. However, it is not uncommon for new mothers to want to stay home with infants and young children. However, as the cultural norms have shifted, so has the view of the courts. Even new mothers may face scrutiny from the courts if they seek alimony for an extended period of time, particularly if they worked prior to entering motherhood.
Scheduling Bonding Time
Custody is the biggest issue for the parents of newborns and infants. Creating a custody plan that will be flexible to allow sufficient infant bonding time to the non-custodial parent should be done well in advance of the birth. While courts may grant joint legal and joint physical custody to both parents, they will often allow mothers to have sole physical custody for the first six months, or longer, if the infant is being breastfed. Once an infant is weaned from breast milk to formula, then a father will be able to get overnight visits.
Getting divorced while pregnant is filled with legal pitfalls. The easiest way to make sure your rights are properly represented is by retaining an experienced divorce lawyer.
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