Divorcing with a newborn can be the most difficult part of breaking up with your spouse. The child is only in the first year of its life and the last thing anyone wants is for upset and struggles between the mother and father. Nevertheless, if you are going through a divorce with a young baby, you need to be aware of what is going to happen.

Read this guide to know your rights.

What Happens When Divorcing With an Infant?

Unfortunately, a lot of couples will go through divorce and this can be a heart-breaking and stressful time for everyone involved. In particular, when there is a young child as part of the divorce, this can complicate things and there is going to be a lot more thought put into what happens to the couple after the separation.

Before having a child, it was a case of sorting out property and what a person was entitled to after a divorce. But if you are wanting a divorce after having a baby, there is going to be the matter of custody to think about.

In other words, who is going to be the primary caregiver and look after the child?

The other parent can be given visitation rights too, but this also calls for sound planning.

What Is Joint Custody?

Separating with a baby involved means that a lot of the focus is going to be on who has custody of the child. One of the most common agreements for parents is to decide on joint custody.

When you have joint legal custody, this means that both parents are going to have equal rights to make decisions for the child. This can include their healthcare, as well as education when they are older.

Then, there is joint physical custody. Just as this sounds, this is about having the child for the same amount of time. In other words, both parents will get to spend equal amounts of time with the child.

Often, the time is split exactly 50/50, but the purpose of this agreement is to find something that is going to work for both parents. This is especially true if one or both of them are working.

The best thing that parents can do when separating with an infant is to be understanding and cooperative. In other words, you want to be available when you can and respect the other partner’s time and commitment. The main idea of joint custody is to allow the child to spend a good amount of time with each parent and grow up having both of them in their lives.

There are some states in the US that have a legal presumption for joint custody. This means that this is going to be the decision of the court unless one or more parties does not agree to this.

What Is Sole Custody?

There is going to be another option available when parents are divorcing with a young child. This is one parent having sole custody. The child will spend the majority of their time with this parent, and this will include living with them. That parent is often going to be the one making all of the major decisions about their future.

This does not mean that the other parent is cut out of the child’s life. Instead, when it is appropriate, they can be given visitation rights. This means that they will have a certain time where they are able to visit and spend time with their child.

This can be available to a child of any age. Visitation can also be called “parenting time” in some states.

There are some circumstances when visitation for a child can be denied. This includes situations in which the safety or security of a child may be jeopardized. The court is always concerned about what is going to be best for the child and to ensure that all of their needs are met. For instance, if a parent has been found guilty of a felony or crime or has even abused the child or the other parent, this can stop them from having visitation rights after divorce.

How Will a Judge Decide on Sole Custody?

A judge is going to look at all of the facts of the case together and ensure the best interests of the child are met in the decision.

In most states, there is no preference for which parent will have sole custody. Many years ago, mothers were favored as the best parent to raise a small child. However, this bias does no longer exist in the courtroom. If it does and the judge allows his or her own views to come into a case, a higher court can reverse this decision.

The judge is going to consider many factors before they make their decision on custody. For example, they may consider whether a parent has already been a primary caretaker in the life of the child. If that parent has had the most responsibility in raising the child, it may be an influencing factor for custody. This is particularly true when the child is still very young.

It may be difficult to tell who an infant has a stronger bond with. But in some cases, this can be a factor that is important. While an infant is going to be too young to talk to, it may be obvious from their behavior the parent they are most comfortable with.

What Are Visitation Rights to a Newborn?

If a parent has been given sole custody of the newborn, this means that the other parent may be entitled to visitation rights. Just as the name suggests, this means that they are going to be able to visit their child and spend time with them.

A visitation schedule is something that parents will have to agree on. A non-custodial parent is not able to work outside of this schedule and simply take the newborn without consent. It is important to note that the custodial parent also has to stick to the visitation schedule.

There are some exceptional circumstances when they can make changes, such as if the child is sick.

Alternatively, there might be a serious reason why visitation rights should be ignored. For example, the parent may have been charged with a crime or done something else that endangers the newborn.

Can There Ever Be Modification of Custody?

Yes, modification of custody is possible. When parents request modification, a court can look at it and make any changes. In fact, it is not rare that what worked when the child was an infant does not work later on in their lives.

Again, the court is always going to have the best interests of the child at the heart of any decision. Therefore, if there is a case where one parent wants to amend the order and the other disagrees, the judge will have to look at the situation very carefully and make sure the child comes first.

Often, a modification to an agreement does not simply come because one parent fancies a change. Instead, a court may state that there has to be a substantial change of circumstances that requires a change to the original agreement. In addition, the change must be suitable and best for the child.

Some examples may include:

  • A child has a preference for the parent they live with
  • A child has a conflict with one of the parents
  • A parent has acted irresponsibly

Is It Possible To Informally Come to an Arrangement on Custody of a Newborn?

Yes, it is possible to agree on custody informally without the court system. Some parents are able to do this without lawyers too. If you do want to go down this route, it may be best to create a contract for custody. This way, if there are any disagreements in the future, there is a way to settle the dispute.

It is always the hope that parents are going to remain amicable toward each other after divorcing. This is something that can help a child and their development. In particular, with a newborn, there are going to be a lot of new experiences that both parents will want to enjoy.

Does Child Support Apply to a Newborn?

If one parent has sole custody of the child after divorce, it is often the case that the non-custodial parent will pay child support. The purpose of this is to help the other parent take care of their child and to support them financially. A child can be expensive and this is a way to ensure that the child is able to enjoy everything they can during their development.

It does not matter what age a child is; child support is something that a parent will have to pay. Even if your child is a newborn, they are going to have needs that will require money. Child support can be used on anything from food to nappies.


Whether you are going through a divorce with 7 month old baby or they are older, this can be a difficult process. It is important to know the law and what will happen when it comes to custody.

Let’s summarize what we have covered:

  • It is possible to get joint custody of a baby, which allows both parents equal rights to make decisions and to be a caregiver.
  • Some states have a legal presumption for joint custody.
  • A judge can award sole custody to one parent if this is going to be the best thing for the child.
  • The other parent may be given visitation rights, which allows them to spend time with their child.
  • Visitation will be denied if there is a danger or risk to the child and their wellbeing, such as if a parent has committed a crime.
  • The mother and father have an equal opportunity to get sole custody of a baby.
  • A judge will consider what parent is best to give the child everything they need.
  • A visitation schedule can be given so that the parent knows the time they can spend with their child.
  • Child support is available to someone looking after a newborn.

It is important to work through a divorce in a way that a child is going to be safe and secure. Most parents are able to come to agreements on custody, visitation and child support for a healthy upbringing even when the wife wants divorce after baby.

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