There’s little more stressful than the divorce process—except going through the process of divorce in Colorado while also pregnant. Whether petitioning for divorce or responding to a spouse’s divorce petition, there’s a space in the dissolution of marriage paperwork to indicate whether or not you are currently pregnant. So, if you’re facing a divorce and you’re also pregnant or your spouse is pregnant, you might be wondering how your pregnancy will impact the divorce process. Can you still get divorced if you’re expecting a baby? Though the short answer is yes, there is more to it that you should know, since the pregnancy impacts important decisions included in the final divorce decree.
The Paternity Question During a Divorce While Pregnant
When parents are married during pregnancy and birth, the male spouse is legally presumed to be the child’s father. The court considers the spouse the presumptive father for up to 300 days after the final divorce decree. In some cases, the male spouse may question paternity if the couple has spent time apart or has been seeing other people. The presumptive father in the case can file a judicial action for paternity to address matters of child custody and child support. If there is any question of paternity, either party can request a court-ordered paternity test.
If all parties agree that a third party is the presumptive father in the case, both spouses and the presumptive father must sign documents affirming that the third party is the father. However, the third party will have to take a paternity test in order to have custody rights and child support obligations.
Do Courts Decide Custody Matters During Divorce When the Woman is Pregnant?
Colorado family courts hold the best interests of the child as their highest priority when deciding all matters of custody (parenting time) and child support. During the divorce process, the best case scenario is for both parents to communicate and compromise on custody and draft a proposed plan for parenting time that works best for both of them. In most cases, the judge will sign off on the plan as long as he/she believes it is in the child’s best interest. Creating a parenting plan that both parties find mutually agreeable because it works best for their unique circumstances is always preferable to an impartial judge creating the plan for the spouses.
Judges in Colorado believe that continued and frequent contact with both parents is in a child’s best interests. For infants and very young children, the court typically prefers parenting schedules that allow frequent contact with a non-custodial parent but not extended contact since a long period of separation from either parent can negatively impact bonding.
If the mother plans to breastfeed the child, it may impact custody decisions by the court, but it does not mean the mother gets exclusive rights to the child. In most cases, a parenting plan approved by a judge in custody cases involving a breastfed baby gives the father several hours a day with the baby for 3-4 days a week. Parents may revisit their parenting plan when the baby is weaned so fathers can have overnight parenting time on an approved custody schedule.
How Does Child Support Work When a Mother is Pregnant During Divorce?
The state of Colorado uses a specific formula to calculate child support. The calculations consider the income of both parents and the amount of time each parent has custody of the child. The parent without primary custody pays child support to the parent with primary custody. If parents plan on sharing custody of the child with a 50/50 parenting time schedule, the lower-earning parent pays child support to the higher-earner. Even though the court determines the child support amount while the woman is pregnant, child support payments aren’t required until after the child’s birth.