MARRIAGE SEPARATION & DIVORCE WHILE PREGNANT

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MARRIAGE SEPARATION & DIVORCE WHILE PREGNANT

There are a number of things to keep in mind if you are considering a divorce while pregnant.  You can file a complaint for divorce while pregnant, and you will need to note that there is an expectant child of the marriage.   New Jersey does not recognize the baby as a person until it is born.  Therefore, you can’t file for custody prior to the baby’s birth.  However, you can work with your spouse to make it go more smoothly while you are pregnant and divorcing.

Getting a Divorce While Pregnant

         If you are considering separation while pregnant, know that it is in the child’s best interest that both parents are involved in the child’s life. While you can’t file for custody until the child is born, you can speak to your spouse to try to reach some preliminary agreements about the child once he or she is born.  It would only benefit your child if you are able to begin co-parenting while getting a divorce in pregnancy.  You may be able to agree that you will share joint legal custody and maybe even determine a parenting time schedule that allows the parent of alternate residence short, frequent visits with the child following his or her birth so that they can also bond with the child.  You may even be able to negotiate ahead of time what expanded parenting time might look like as the child grows and becomes more interactive.

         If you are married, you are likely to be on the same health insurance through the entry of the final judgment of divorce.  Any debts that accrue during the marriage are to be divided by the parties through equitable distribution.  The filing of the complaint is generally the end date in terms of equitable distribution. However, the statute provides that the court may order a father to contribute to the unreimbursed expenses attributed to the pregnancy and birth of a child.  If you can’t agree with your spouse when divorcing while pregnant, you could pursue the reimbursement of these expenses from the court.   Additionally, you may want to consider agreeing to a divorce from bed and board if it will allow you to stay on your spouse’s insurance until you give birth. 

         If you are considering leaving your husband while pregnant, you should try to prepare a future budget in addition to a marital budget, as your expenses will change once you have the child.  This may be helpful in determining how much financial support, i.e. alimony, you will need in order to adequately meet your expenses.  If you have other children, child support will initially be established for them.  You will want to keep in mind, however, that you will need to re-run the child support guidelines to account for the new child following the child’s birth.

         It is also a wise decision to begin tracking your spouse’s involvement with the child, in the event that custody becomes an issue later.  Specifically, keep track of all appointments that your spouse attends with you, their interest and involvement in the health of you and the baby, any purchases that are made by your spouse for the baby, and any willingness to discuss things like the baby’s name and who will be present at the birth.  How you and your spouse are able to communicate while divorcing and pregnant will likely be indicative of how you are able to co-parent once the child is born.

         If you are dealing with a pregnancy during divorce proceedings, it will likely add another layer of stress to your life.  The attorneys with DeTorres & DeGeorge have negotiated this path previously and are ready to assist you with coping with a divorce while pregnant. Contact us today! 

Caitlin DeGuilo Toker
Caitlin DeGuilo Toker joined DeTorres and DeGeorge as an associate attorney in June 2014 and was named a partner of the firm in May 2019.Prior to joining the firm, Caitlin was associated with law firms specializing in the practice of family ...
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