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Never married father of 10 year old never had court orders, now having trouble with mother

Your Question:
I fathered a son in 1995. A year after my son was born his mother unexpectedly marries the father of her other three children. My son lives with the mother and step dad. Everything has been ok, I pick my son up from school on Fridays and take him to his mom on Sundays. Two weeks ago my son's mother's attitude changed. She is becoming more and more diffilcult to communicate with. She has even threatend to end the time that I spend with my son. I am his father on paper-(birth certificate) and he has been on my medical and dental coverage since birth. My question is, would I have a chance at having some parental rights and custody of some sorts if I took her to court? P.S. He is my only child.

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My Answer:

So long as you act IMMEDIATELY, you shouldn't have a problem securing court orders for something close to, if not exact, what you had for years.

If you've never had court orders, it's my understanding that you'll file a paternity action and seeking orders for custody/visitation. I hate the term "visitation", but that's what most states call it.

In your pleadings, show copies of insurance statements dating back as far as you can.

Show a copy of the birth certificate with your name as father.

Outline the Friday to Sunday schedule, and get witnesses to write quick affadavits as to what they observed of the parenting schedule.

I'd suggest you request orders for MORE than what you think is ideal because courts have a way of typically not giving one side everything they want.

So, maybe ask for Friday from school to Sunday eve, plus Tuesday from school until bedtime, plus half of spring break, plus 3 weeks summer vacation, plus alternating all holidays between homes.

Given your history, this should be a joint custody arrangement, and don't agree to letting the mother have sole custody (no matter what promise is made). As she's already threatening to take you out of the picture, she's not going to become any more cooperative if she has sole custody.

If you don't know what you're doing in court, this can all explode in your face to where you become a largely marginalized parent. For that reason, I can't emphasize enough that you need to retain a family law attorney who has had at least 10 years experience in your county.

I suggest you prepare your case as I've outlined (consult with an attorney to verify the validity of what I've written) and then approach this with a hope to settle it, but expecting and preparing to resolve it in court.

Don't tell your ex what you're planning to do. Just prepare to do it, serve her when you file your papers, and simulatneously invite her to settle peacefully before the court date (i.e., and if you do settle, your initial request for MORE is what lets you toss her a bone and give up a thing or two).


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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