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Two jerks are off to a bad start with their infant

Your Question:
my girlfriend got pregnate by me. i asked her to marry me but she said no because she thinks i want to marry her because its the right thing to do, not because i love her. the day our daughter was born i asked her again to marry me. she said no because i dont have a job. im a full time student that just finished my first year of college. she said if i drop out of school and get a job she might conceder marrige. i refused. one more year and i will have my AA degree. we broke up because of this. after the break up she would let me see my baby every now and then. i refused to sign the paterinty affadavit because she named our baby with her last name, not mine. her last name is her ex-husbands name. she kept his name after thier divorce. she wont let me see my baby at all unless i start paying my share of baby expencis. i dont think its right to pay for a baby that has another mans name. i love my baby and will gladly pay my fair share if she will change our daughters last name to mine. she refuses to do this. can i legally force her to change the babys name? being a poor college student i cant afford an attorny.

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My Answer:

Okay, you either wrote this as a joke, or you really need a wake-up call on how to be a grown man.

I hope this response comes as a slap in the face because that's how it's intended-- I don't know why your parents aren't telling you this stuff, so I'm gonna give you some tough love.

When you decided to have sex with your girlfriend, you accepted the risks that came with it. Unplanned pregnancy is a possible consequence of sex. When you and your girlfriend had a child, your PRIORITIES should have shifted to the child, but they didn't.

A MAN would do what has to be done to care for his child (regardless of whether or not you get married). A MAN doesn't whine about not being able to work due to school. A MAN doesn't make supporting a child conditional on his child's name.

You are screwed in the head if you can say (in the same sentence) that you love your baby, but you'll only be a responsible parent if the baby's last name is changed. Can you understand this point?

The mother isn't doing so well either, refusing to let you be a part of the child's life unless you cough up some money. Those are separate issues (i.e., child support and parenting time) and it's malicious and inappropriate to make such threats.

You also need to let go of the whole ex-husband thing. The baby has the mother's last name, and it has nothing to do with the ex-husband. She kept the last name as her identity, and now the baby has that last name.

Here's what I suggest you do:

  • I agree with you that your education is important. But it must be balanced by new responsibilities in your life. So, drop to part-time status, and get a full-time job. You no longer have much time for fun and recreation in your life, perhaps for a couple years, to pull everything together.

  • Go to a parenting class in your area, and consider meeting with a therapist. You are SO self-centered (i.e., it's all about you, right?!). It's important that you develop a sense of compassion and sensitivity for others.

  • Take a different approach with the mother. Ask to sit down with her to make a written agreement on who will pay for what, how you two will make decisions together, and what the regular parenting schedule will be (note that in addition to school and a job, you'll have to spend frequent time with your baby, ideally several times a week for at least a few hours at a time). An apology would be great, for how you've been acting.

  • After doing all of the above, the mother will likely be willing to listen to your request to change the baby's name to hyphenate her last name and your last name. I would imagine that if you show that you're being responsible, cooperative, and an involved father-- chances are decent that the mother would agree with your request (unless she's a vindictive harpie).

As to your single question, Can I legally force her to change the baby's name?, it would be such a bad decision to take your case into the courtroom. You'll be ordered to pay child support (perhaps far more than you and the mother can work out on your own), and you'll lose your motion to change the baby's name. Without an attorney you'll have no idea how to argue your case and you will likely lose on everything because you'll come across to the judge as a self-centered jerk who wants everything his way or else he'll walk away from the baby. If you want to know reality, go to your local courthouse, find the family law area, and sit in a courtroom to see the cases. Parents with your attitude get POUNDED.

Okay, so that ends the "tough" part of "tough love".

Here's the "love" part of it: if you follow the hard work in the plan I laid out, in three years, you'll have a little kid running around your home, lovingly calling you daddy, and thinking that you're the greatest guy in the world.

But you have to earn that joy, through hard work right now in being a grown man whose biggest priority is supporting his child (on all fronts).


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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