Pregnancy With Domestic Partners
Gone are the days when marriage, as dictated by society, was a prerequisite to having a family. Many couples are now opting to have babies together while not choosing to indulge in the so-called "benefit" of marriage. In addition, many of these couples are non-traditional - gay and lesbian couples are making the decision to raise families together, either through adoption or by some other means, such as surrogacy.
Domestic Partners, Parenting, and the Law
Family law will vary from state to state, but domestic partners who are contemplating raising children together would be wise to explore the laws specific to their state. In the event of separation or the death of one of the partners, knowing what the laws of their state dictate could prevent heartache and problems in the future. As with traditional marriage, nobody entering into a domestic partnership that includes children thinks it may end unhappily; however, statistics tell us otherwise. Custody, support, and visitation issues should be discussed prior to conception or adoption.
Domestic Partnership and Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery Expenses
Insurance companies are not required by law to cover the pregnancy of a woman who is pregnant with the child of their policyholder. Consequently, if the partner responsible for the pregnancy is not covered by a policy through her own employment, then the financial aspect of prenatal care and hospital labor and delivery expenses should be taken into consideration and planned for. Once the baby is born, however, that baby can usually be insured by the father's policy for future medical expenses.
Domestic Partners and Doctor and Hospital Policies
It is important that prior to delivery, the parents are aware of their hospital's policies on unrelated people being involved in the labor and delivery process. Although most hospitals are now very accepting of unmarried mothers having the full support, emotional and physical, of their partners, that understanding and support may not extend to all corners of the map. To avoid any last minute confusion and disappointment, expectant couples must know their hospital's policies prior to delivery. Although unlikely, it may be necessary to explore several hospital options before a final decision is made where the baby will be born.
Again, it is highly unlikely in this day and age, that doctors will give much thought to or pass judgment on unmarried couples becoming parents. However, it is advisable that both parents attend as many prenatal appointments together and engage in open and frank discussions with the doctor in such a way that there is no question as to the level of involvement of all parties involved.
Domestic Partners and Raising a Baby
As with any couple preparing for the birth of a baby, domestic partners should discuss the basic care and feeding of their child. Cloth diapers or disposable? Breastfeeding or bottle? Commercially prepared baby food or homemade? Will one of the parents be able to stay home with the baby or will both parties work and, if so, what daycare arrangements are to be made? How will the responsibilities, including financial, be divided between the parents?
These may seem like trivial concerns but to avoid any conflict after the baby arrives, it is a good idea for the parents to be in agreement prior to the birth of their baby about these and other issues relative to raising their child.