Pregnancy and Divorce in California

You don’t usually hear people utter “pregnancy” and “divorce” in the same sentence, but in reality, it’s a common situation for married couples in Orange County and the rest of the nation. Though California does allow women to proceed with their divorces while they’re pregnant, some states don’t allow divorces during pregnancy at all. And divorcing in California during a pregnancy is not complication-free.

A married couple in California can file a divorce during a pregnancy, but the divorce cannot be finalized until after the baby is born. How come? It mainly has to do with concerns over paternity. Understandably, those paternity rights and concerns will become a major focus of the divorce case, especially if the husband isn’t sure if he’s the father.

Questions About Paternity

Naturally, divorce and pregnancy have their complications. If the wife became pregnant while the couple was married, then legally the woman’s husband would be the child’s legal father, even if he isn’t the biological father. So, if the husband or the wife suspects the child may not be the husband’s, a paternity test will need to be performed after the child’s birth.

Let’s assume that, no doubt, the husband is the child’s father. In that case, a number of issues will need to be resolved after the child’s birth, such as child custody, child support, daycare expenses, health insurance, and visitation.

Paternity: What About Labor & Delivery?

If the husband is the child’s father, there will be questions about the labor and delivery. Will the father attend the birth or will mother say that he is unwelcome? If it’s an acrimonious divorce, the mother may not want the father in the delivery room.

In California, it would be hard to find a labor and delivery unit that would force the mother to have her husband in the room if she doesn’t want him there. For example, if the wife discovered that her husband was having an affair, she may not want him at the birth because she finds him stressful. But later, the father could argue that his wife wouldn’t let him bond with his child after birth.

Before the child’s birth, the father can ask the court to include him in the delivery process. While he may be excluded during the mother’s “Golden Hour,” he may be awarded bonding time with the child shortly after the birth.

After the newborn is discharged from the hospital, the father will have to keep in mind the “best interests of the child,” especially if the baby is breastfeeding. Custody initially, may not include overnight visits, at least while the child is still nursing, but it can be expanded as the child stops breastfeeding or starts taking a bottle.

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