Dear New Mom-to-Be,
Congratulations! I am so thrilled for this new journey you are embarking on. Becoming a mom is the single most scary, amazing, confusing, beautiful experience. I’m not saying that child birth is fun, or that the adoption process is easy, but the moment when you actually become a mother to a small human who needs you, that moment will change you for life. Despite all the fear and uncertainty, it can absolutely change you for the better if you allow it to do so.
As your lawyer friend, there are things I know and things I have seen that I know can help you at this phase in your life. There are warning labels you need to read and things you need to think about before that child enters your life. There are things you can do right now that will make your life infinitely easier down the road. And yet, if I were to give you a laundry list of what these things are, I know that you would shake your head. You would probably think that some other moms may need those things, but you do not. At the very least, you may think these things take all the fun out of it.
How do I know? Because I have had so many girlfriends become mothers, completely unprepared because they didn’t think it would ever happen to them. I have worked with countless women who came to me, admitting they knew better, but they just didn’t believe it would happen. Because when I was a mom-to-be myself, I thought the same things about myself.
So, here’s what I’m going to do…I’m going to give you my list of legal things for moms-to-be to consider. If any of these resonate with you, even just a little bit, then call me, and we’ll chat more. No sales gimmicks, no obligations, just some girl talk between you and me about this amazing journey you are on, and whether you really do need legal help before you get there.
Work on your relationship with your co-parent
If you are married, then it may be time for marriage counseling to work through the hard stuff you keep sweeping under the rug. Talk about money, how you’re going to support the baby, and who is going to be responsible for basic care. If you are not married or living together, talk about child custody and visitation. And here’s the hard part: Talk about what you want to do if your relationship ever goes bad. That co-parent is in your child’s life and thus in your life whether you like them or not. Start talking now.
Figure out your work schedule and your finances
We live in a society where women are still expected to sacrifice careers for the sake of child care. Where ever you fall in that world, make sure you have a plan you can stick to. I can tell you right now that you’re going to need more time with your child than you probably anticipate. Whether it’s nursing or post-adoption bonding, they are exhausting. And if your child has special needs, you’ll need to spend even more time advocating for them and their care. Figure out how you can realistically work in between all this, and then factor in your budget accordingly.
Do your estate plan
Yes, this is very lawyerly advice. I am so, so, SO glad my husband and I did our estate plans before our daughter actually appeared on the scene. Now that she is a walking, talking part of our lives, I don’t think I could ever appoint a guardian for her in writing – no one seems good enough. But if anything happens to us, the last thing I want is for her to be in foster care. With our wills done, we know that we have soundly-chosen guardians who will take care of her if the need arises. We, also, know that she will be taken care of financially. This is a huge weight off our shoulders in moments of fear.
Understand your legal situation
If you are married and having a child within the marriage, then you probably don’t have a lot of legal issues to consider. If you are a single mom, in a relationship outside of legal marriage (this includes couples that are married within a church but not with the state), dealing with a sick or deceased parent, or any other special circumstance, then you may have legal issues to confront soon after that child comes into your life. It is good to know what issues you may be facing and what decisions you’ll need to make before it’s crunch time. This is a really good reason to give me a call, because I do not want you blindsided with life-changing decisions when you are sleep deprived with a new child.
Take a stand for yourself
New children bring with them a wave of potential family drama. Nothing can throw a new mom off her game like a whirlwind of opinions, advice, gifts, and other things that come loaded with more than just best wishes and good intentions. I’m not a therapist, so there isn’t a whole lot I can do to help you with this one other than share this nugget of truth: YOU are the mom now, so follow your gut and raise your family YOUR way.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Remember, if you want to chat with a lawyer friend, I’m here to welcome you into this beautiful world of motherhood. Because no matter what you’re facing, it really is beautiful.
To schedule a time for us to chat, with absolutely no gimmicks or obligations, please click here.