No, no, no. I’m not pregnant again nor am I planning a divorce from my husband (unless he leaves his socks on the floor again). But I wanted to touch on a topic that has touched my heart recently because of one of my best friends.
Elaine got married about a year and a half ago. Beautiful, big, stunning wedding. It was such a lovely day. She couldn’t have been more overjoyed to announce that she and Frank were expecting their first child just a few months ago. But now, they’re filing for divorce.
It’s not as uncommon as you’d think.
And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just can’t make it work and there’s no sense in bringing a child into a loveless marriage. Sometimes it’s just better to go your separate ways and make arrangements for custody than to live life as a sham.
And in Elaine’s case, it was imperative she gets away. On the outside, Frank seemed like this amazing guy. But she’d later confess he started hitting her. Even with that, she didn’t leave. It wasn’t until he came home high as a kite and had blown over $5,000 from their savings, then took it out on her with his fists of fury that Elaine ran out the door.
In her case, the divorce proceedings were quite easy. The police report certainly helped.
Most states allow for divorce during pregnancy except for Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, and Texas. Thankfully, this was in California and Elaine had no issues.
If you’re in a state that doesn’t allow divorce to finalize before the birth of your child, you can get the paperwork in place for separation. A good lawyer can help you with that.
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What You Can Do When You Divorce While Pregnant
In addition to the mountain of paperwork, Elaine not only had her pregnancy hormones going all over the place, but she was coping with this traumatic life event. While not all divorces during pregnancy are due to a spouse’s abuse, infidelity, or any other negative event, they can all be difficult to get through. And adding pregnancy to the mix is even more challenging.
But you’ll get through this. You’re about to get through an even bigger challenge in a few more months – motherhood! This will be a walk in the park. For now, though, I completely understand because I’ve been going through it with Elaine and trying to be there for her.
This is what you can do to make life easier for you when you get a divorce while pregnant.
Get the support you need
I’m not the only one Elaine has to lean on. She’s got her parents and her sisters as well as some of our other friends. She also goes to a therapist to sort out her own feelings. If you can’t handle that though, there are support groups you can join that will help you realize you’re not alone. Your doctor may even have some local recommendations.
See about counseling for couples
In Elaine’s case, there was no working it out. It’s never wise to stay with someone abusive. Get help immediately if you’re in an abusive relationship. But if things are less extreme, then you can see about couples’ counseling. It may not bring you back together, but it can help you be better parents by getting you on the same page when it comes to raising your baby.
Choose the right lawyer
When you’re pregnant and getting a divorce, it’s important to choose an attorney that specializes in divorce. Duh! But you should look for an attorney that is also experienced in family law. This will help reduce stress with custody and making sure things are resolved the way you want them to be.
Let out the stress
Divorce is stressful. Pregnancy is stressful. Put them together and you have one gigantic ball of stress out there. Letting this stress out is critical for your health and your baby’s too.
Elaine took to journaling and joined a prenatal yoga class which she loves. Find things that help make that stress leave your body in whatever way works for you and is safe for the baby.
Let your friends help
At first, Elaine tried to do it all. I’d offer all the time to come cook or help her clean up. I know her family did too. But she tried to hide that she needed help because she was ashamed. Counseling helped her realize she had nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t be afraid to tell those that love you what you need help with. If you ask, they WILL be there for you.
Devise a plan for co-parenting
Again, Elaine didn’t want Frank anywhere near this baby after what he did, and the courts are siding with her. But if your partner isn’t abusive, you can get with your lawyers to come up with a co-parenting plan. As Mrs. Doubtfire (the late, great Robin Williams) said, “Just because they don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.” Let that be your guide when trying to be fair with your ex about being involved with the baby so that you’re always doing what’s best for your child.
Do not feel guilty even for a second
Getting divorced isn’t something you should ever feel guilty about if it makes you and your ex better parents, or if your ex has brought physical or emotional harm to you.
Children are happier when their parents are happy. If you and your ex are happier apart, you can be adults about amicable divorce and create a plan that allows you to both be in the baby’s life. And even if it’s a total mess of a divorce, you are so much better off. Sticking around only shows your child that being treated badly is ok when it’s anything but.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.