Handling Custody and Child Support when Your Child Is Not Yet Born
When a divorcing couple has children, a child support order and parenting plan are part of their divorce settlement. But what if one or more of the couple’s children are still in the womb? The court cannot create a child support order or parenting plan for a fetus. These can be established after the child’s birth, at which point the child’s legal parentage becomes an important issue to consider if he or she is not actually a product of the marriage. When the child is the product of the couple’s marriage and the parents intend to establish a parenting plan for him or her, it can be easier to wait until the child is born to complete the divorce process. However, this is not required in Illinois like it is in a few states.
A Baby Born to a Married Woman or a Woman Married at the Time of Conception Is Legally the Spouse’s Child
Legal parentage is not the same thing as biological parentage. When a woman who is currently married or was married at the time of conception gives birth, her spouse is automatically the baby’s legal parent, regardless of whether the spouse is the child’s biological parent. This can create difficulties in cases where another man fathers a married woman’s child.
A non-biological legal parent who does not want to be the child’s legal parent must terminate his or her parental rights, which is easier to achieve with the aid of an experienced family lawyer. Conversely, an unmarried biological parent must establish his parentage to become his child’s legal father, which can be done in a few different ways.
Applying Illinois’ Parenting Time and Child Support Laws after Birth
You cannot have parenting time with an unborn child – think about it, how could that be possible? Once the baby is born, though, a legal parent may petition to the court to establish a parenting plan. This is why it is so important for an unmarried parent to establish a child’s parentage.
To develop a parenting plan, the court determines the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. For a newborn, this generally means being with the mother for the bulk of the child’s time, especially if the mother breastfeeds. This does not mean a father cannot have parenting time with a newborn, but overnight visits and prolonged stretches of time together could be out of the question until the baby is weaned.
Similarly, a legal parent can take steps to establish a child support order after a baby is born.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Family Lawyer
Getting divorced while you or your spouse are pregnant can be quite difficult. For legal guidance as you work through the steps of the divorce process and the establishment of a parenting plan and child support order once the child is born, work with an experienced Kane County family lawyer. Contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. today to schedule your initial consultation in our office. Call us today at 630-584-5550 for help.