Congratulations! You’re expecting! Having been there not too long ago myself, I remember how amazing pregnancy is. (Trust me: when it’s over, you’ll remember it being amazing. You won’t remember the morning sickness, the breathlessness, the insomnia, or any of the other negative side effects of pregnancy.)
Having a baby is so exciting! But…if you’re headed for divorce, it’s also pretty darn scary. Uncertainty is hard at the best of times, but when you’ve got pregnancy hormones wreaking havoc, it’s even more difficult to deal with the unknown.
Facing divorce while pregnant is difficult, there’s no doubt about it, but now’s as good a time as any to start planning your steps and figuring out your available options. Maybe it’s not ideal, but a baby is always a wonderful thing, and you can figure out what to do to minimize the disruption to everyone involved.
Custody and Visitation
If you and your husband already had a child together, custody and visitation was going to be an issue anyway. If your little bundle of joy will be your first child together, you’re going to want to start thinking about it now.
Of course, custody and visitation can mean very different things to different people, especially depending on the age of the kids in question. Custody and visitation of newborns is different than that of school aged kids which is different than that of teenagers. It’s a good idea to start thinking about these differences now, including ideally how you’d like your family to be structured post-divorce, and what kind of custody and visitation arrangement you’d like to see. Do you want to breastfeed? How supportive is your husband? Will you pump and feed the baby that way? To some extent, if you go in front of a judge, you might not have that much control over how it all goes down; if you can reach an agreement, on the other hand, you may be able to exercise far more control over how you parent. At what point would you think overnights are appropriate? Thinking of these things now can help you start to articulate a custody and visitation arrangement that would work.
Of course, you’ll want to talk to him, too. You can’t really mandate how it’s all going to go down. I’m just recommending that you think about it, but it’s definitely a good idea to discuss things with him, to the extent possible, so you can have a similar idea about things as early as possible.
Special Issues in custody cases
The more you know about how the law works in Virginia, the better. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Virginia law and how it operates in custody and visitation cases.
Where to start? Well, don’t start reading the Virginia Code. It’d bore you to tears. We’ve got so many resources to help you figure out Virginia law, and learn about how it applies in custody cases.
Request a copy of our custody book for Virginia moms or any of our free reports. We’ve got reports related to all sorts of special issues in Virginia custody cases, including relocation, reunification, physical and sexual abuse, and even one on how Virginia moms can lose custody. There are reports on working with Guardians ad litem, and how courts decide custody cases in Virginia.
And there’s resources related to divorce, too. We’ve got lots of books and free reports available for you to download.
Need still more? That’s great! We’ve got more. Check out our library (and even use the search bar to find topic-related information on questions that are bugging you to death) for a super comprehensive list of blogs and articles, or attend one of our monthly divorce seminars for an opportunity to hear from a divorce attorney live, and even ask your questions.
…What if the baby isn’t my husband’s?
Well, it’s true that this may make things both more and less complicated.
It’s less complicated in the sense that, if the baby isn’t his, custody and visitation (at least related to this child) isn’t a factor.
It’s more complicated in the sense that then adultery becomes an issue. There are a couple components related to a divorce where a party uses adultery as their grounds that you should know about.
1. If you’ve committed adultery, it’s generally a bar to spousal support. (I say generally because there is the possibility that you could still receive it, if to deny it would cause manifest injustice—but it’s unlikely. Talk to an attorney about this possibility, and to see whether it might apply to you.)
2. If you’ve BOTH committed adultery, the two affairs legally cancel each other out, and you can’t use adultery as your grounds (though it’ll likely still bar you from spousal support).
3. If you’ve committed adultery and he slept with you afterwards, he legally forgives you for the adultery (though, again, it’ll likely still bar you from spousal support).
4. To prove adultery requires clear and convincing evidence, which is difficult. It requires corroborating evidence (usually from a third party, like a private investigator). Divorces are rarely granted on the grounds of adultery, but that doesn’t mean that adultery can’t make your divorce cost more and take longer.
If you’ve committed adultery, you should talk to a lawyer – the sooner the better. The more you know about the law and how it operates in cases like these, the better. You should be asking questions and preparing yourself for the decisions you may have to make.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant. As far as your divorce goes, this may complicate things, but with solid preparation and a good attitude, you can prepare to meet the challenges. Motherhood is worth it.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.