How to handle a Florida divorce when you're pregnant

For some couples struggling to maintain their relationship, children can be an inspiration that helps them preserve their marital union. For others, the discovery of impending parenthood may instead be motivation to end the relationship.

If you are currently pregnant and know that you will need to seek a divorce in Florida, there will be special considerations for you throughout the process. Familiarizing yourself with how Florida approaches divorce during pregnancy can help you make more informed decisions about the end of your marriage.

You have to acknowledge your pregnancy when you file

If your husband is abusive or controlling, you might hope that divorcing him now will protect you and the child from his future influence in your life. You might even want to hide the fact that you're pregnant from your spouse and the courts.

However, under Florida law, you have to acknowledge your pregnancy and file for divorce as a parent with a child. That means that the proceedings will be more protracted while the courts consider issues like custody and support.

There is a presumption of paternity in most cases

If you give birth while married, even if you are in the process of divorcing, your spouse will be the presumptive father on the birth certificate. The state of Florida assumes that the man married to the mother of a child is the father of that child.

If you believe that your spouse is not the father, you may be able to undergo genetic testing to verify this. Barring a conclusive genetic test that proves that your ex isn't the father, they will have some rights under Florida law.

Your ex may be able to seek shared custody

Even though your husband will not be part of your life by the time you become a parent, they will still have the right to be part of your child's life. Moreover, they will also have a legal obligation to provide support for your child.

You might imagine that because you are pregnant, you can divorce and simply secure sole custody of your unborn child. However, your ex has equal rights under Florida law to seek parenting time and bond with your child, even if your relationship ends before the birth.

Legal strategy is critical for a divorce during a pregnancy

Obtaining a divorce during a pregnancy is difficult but not impossible. Managing this process in a way that focuses both on compliance with state law and the best interest of your unborn child can be difficult, especially while experiencing the hormones and pressures and pregnancy.

Discussing your situation with an attorney in Florida who has experience with complex divorce cases can help you during this complicated time in your life.

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Beverly L . Brennan A PARTNER AT MCLAUGHLIN & STERN, LLP - NAPLES, FLORIDA ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

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