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Ex-fiance may be having my baby - what are paternity rights?

Your Question:
I've got a few questions maybe I can get some help with. My x-fiance is carrying a child that I think is mine. But because of the reasons that made me decide to stop wedding plans, I'm not sure whether the child is mine or not. I found out that she was cheating and is really unstable.

Regardless of that, I'm going to assume that the child is mine until proven otherwise.

First question: Can there be a paternity test done before the child is born?

Second question: What are my rights as an un-married parent? I personally would like to have the child put up for adoption. I'm not ready and I don't feel she is fit to be a mother. This is a sore spot with me. I know what my responsibilities are, but going through all of this has really left me with a need to wipe my hands of it. I just don't know if I would be able to do it.

I'm really afraid of the reaction when I start pushing this subject. I have my boundries set and we are no longer in immediate contact . . . but I wonder how this will effect her. Again . . . I realize this is kind of pointless until a paternity test, but I'm just trying to put together a worst case scenario so I'll have something to work with.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or questions would be greatly appreciated.

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My Answer:

I don't envy your position.

It's up to you to decide how you'll approach this. Unfortunately, the mother is immediately presumed a parent, while an unmarried father must prove it (or the two must agree to it).

If you want to give a child up for adoption, but the mother does not, you lose. She can keep it, and she can name you as dad. The converse is that if she wants to give up the child for adoption, and you've already filed for paternity, your rights can't easily be terminated for the adoption.

If the child is not given up for adoption, and the child is yours, YOU HAVE THE EXACT SAME PARENTAL RIGHTS when the child is born. Unfortunately, you'll be hard-pressed to get custody of a newborn from a mother who has no history of blatant child abuse.

If she claims the child is yours, you can demand a paternity test after the birth if you are HOPING that it's not yours. If you're not the dad, you're free and got a valuable lesson in the extreme importance of extreme birth control measures (many of us have learned this lesson).

If the child IS yours, expect to see a good chunk of your paycheck disappear for child support. If you want, you can also establish a parenting schedule and learn how to be a dad... within 6 months, you'll be a pro. Within 12 months, you'll be blown away at the experience (and it just gets better from there). It's a huge responsibility, but also a huge opportunity to open doors within yourself that you didn't even know about.

You sound like a compassionate, concerned man. You may have been volunteered by the cosmos to be this child's ray of light. Dealing with the mother will be hell for two decades. You'll be in and out of court. Any new girlfriend/wife that you have will likewise deal with your huge baggage of having a child and a loon for a co-parent. It's not a fun road.

All of that said... right now, one option for you is to disappear. She may try to have the child alone. She may not be able to get a support order against you if she doesn't know where you are.

That's a big decision too. You'll always wonder if you have a child out there, and what's happening to the child. You may get nailed eventually for child support. You may get a knock on your door in 20 years from a young man or woman who wants to know why you weren't around. I personally wasn't able to take that path.

You've got a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts going on right now.

Here's my guess... you're not morally able to walk away right now. If that's our starting place, then you may wish to get an attorney lined up for the time of the birth. If you don't have a few thousand bucks, start borrowing and scrounging. This attorney will protect your rights, beginning at birth, and help get you as much involved or as little as you want. The attorney will ensure paternity is done correctly.

In terms of thinking about court, know that you'll have many years for each of you to prove your parenting worth. Your ex may surprise you. Or not. Unfortunately, the court isn't interested in your speculation of what kind of mother she will be. The court will pay more attention to what kind of mother she has been (a year later).

The worst that happens is that you've got a new child, your life gets more stressful, you gotta deal with your ex's crap for a couple decades (under mostly controlled circumstances due to court orders), you face new responsibilities, and in a couple years, someone may look at you adoringly and call you daddy. It's not how we dream of having kids, but things could be much worse too... you could be facing all this as a resident of Iraq. :)

Best wishes for you,

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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