Your pregnancy should be a happy time when you’re surrounded by those you love most, including the baby’s father. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for every mom-to-be.
It’s tough when your relationship dissolves right when you need your partner the most, but it happens. However, you owe it to your unborn to take the right steps during this critical time. Here’s a checklist for dealing with divorce while pregnant.
1. Get Help
Being pregnant and alone is a scary proposition. You’ve heard the saying, “it takes a village.” You need just as much support before you give birth. If you lose your partner’s backing, you’ll have to look elsewhere to find the help you need.
Your family may provide support in some cases. You might not want your parents in your child’s life if they were abusive. However, family rifts sometimes occur for less drastic reasons. Can you look past rehashing old arguments to provide a solid support system for yourself and your little one? How can you set appropriate boundaries to get the help you need without feeling like your folks are usurping your right to raise your child as you deem appropriate?
You’ll also need to line up prenatal care for yourself and your unborn. If you previously relied on your partner for income and insurance coverage, you may need to turn to social services while you get back on your feet. Your state department of public services is often a good starting point for finding the assistance you need.
2. Explore Your Legal Options
The cost of divorce varies from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands if you get attorneys involved. If your ex is amiable and agreeable, you might be able to DIY. See if your state makes the requisite forms available online. If you can agree to the terms, you’ll only need to pay the filing and court fees.
However, if your partner retains an attorney, you should do the same. It can be tricky if your former spouse was the primary wage earner and controlled the household finances. Every state has some sort of legal aid available for those who are indigent or unable to afford legal help in civil matters.
3. Discuss Custody and Child Support
Depending on where you live, you might have to wait until after giving birth to begin divorce proceedings. States like Arizona require you to deliver so that they can determine paternity for custody and child support purposes. However, you should still open the dialogue if possible.
Most states have formulas they use to determine child support if you and your former partner do not agree. However, remember, you will have to return to modify the agreement later if you want it to be enforceable — meaning spending more money on court fees down the line. Therefore, discuss exceptions, such as who will pay for after-school activities and college to save money later.
4. Talk to Your Employer
There’s one reason to take a deep breath and heave a sigh of relief when dealing with divorce while pregnant today. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting great resignation means employers are more likely to entertain your request for flextime and telecommuting options than ever. Those who parent solo may need such arrangements to juggle their multiple responsibilities.
What if your profession requires in-person work, like cleaning houses or working face-to-face with clients? Does your employer provide childcare options onsite? Are they flexible enough to let you bring your little one with you when necessary?
5. Secure a Living Space
The housing crisis in America shows no sign of stopping. Median rent jumped by 12% in 2021, and it isn’t likely to slow down in 2022. Even if you worked hard and earned raises, you might find yourself unable to keep pace. It only gets harder after you give birth, especially if you’re an hourly employee where taking off a little early to tend to a sick child means coming up short.
Consider your living situation when discussing your child support needs. You and your baby need a secure space. If you and your spouse own a home together, it’s probably best for the custodial parent to remain in it for the sake of providing a consistent living arrangement for your baby-to-be.
6. Ensure You Have the Supplies You Need
If you’re dealing with divorce while pregnant, you need to work your shower registry extra-hard, especially if it’s your first child. New parents need things like onesies, bibs, cribs and diapers — lots of diapers.
Look for bargains. Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace can connect you with gently used baby goods for less. Sites such as Nextdoor allow you to connect with neighbors and see if anyone near you is giving away their old nursery furnishings.
Dealing With Divorce While Pregnant
You need all the support you can get while pregnant, but life doesn’t always go the way you plan. If you find yourself dealing with divorce while pregnant, you still need to ensure your child a warm welcome to this world while dealing with the emotional fallout.
It’s natural to forget things when you’re in crisis mode. Consult this checklist when dealing with divorce while pregnant.