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Previous poster has more questions about her infant born to never-married parents


Your Question:
Eric,
I appreciate you taking the time to help me decide what is best for our child. I thank you for being honest and helping me realize my own mistakes. I'm willing to hear the truth because in my eyes, you can always benefit from it. I agree, it's not my choice, it both of ours.

As I had mentioned before, I do feel that he could be a good father. In all honesty, I'm willing to meet him half way. I feel that we could make our child have a healthy, loving, successful live, with BOTH of us. If I did not think that, I would not be asking for your help.

Okay, I have called him and asked him on numerous occasions to come and see our son. He did and times and other times he was just to "busy". Right, during our last conversation I asked him to help me out finacially. I have no recieved a PENNY from this man and I've offered him a lot-though we were not together. Correction, I do not ask him about the child's doctor's appointments, I let him come to the appointments with us. I feel he has a right to be involved in the health of our child, so I invite him to the check-ups. I'm not a horrible person, I'm trying. I admit I have some hatred towards him and that I'm sure I'm trying to take control at times. I admit to that 100%.

Right, I'm twenty-one but for that being said, I think I'm a mature adult. Maybe not always but I'm fit to be a parent, in my eyes. The father thinks I'm a good mother, and I think he could be a good father-just needs to stick with what he says.

Okay, so here are some more questions for you.

What is a reasonable amount to ask for child support? Face it, I'm not trying to take him for everything he has. He is going to have the child too and my point is not to make him broke. That would only be hurting the child because he needs to afford a place to live, food, clothing, and baby supplies. I'm not sure what a good amount is, could you help me find something fair. We are trying to work on coming up with an amount, we agreed not to fight it out but are getting a court agreement signed.

When is a good time for the child to start staying over night with him? I have no problem with the child staying on the weekends that he has off. However, I would like 2 weekends with the child too-as I would give him.

What exactly is joint custody and how many days a week is that/or hours a week? Does he have exactly what I have, or is one the main caretaker, one home address, etc?

How do I keep his parents involved, if he don't? In my eyes, they are really good people that deserve the right to be in this child's life. I think grandparents are wonderful for a child and he will not take it in his own hands to keep them posted. So, I'm wrong for sending them pictures and letters?

As far as the other child that he left, I just don't want the same to happen with this child. I do not want to have to tell our child that his daddy decided to leave. It's not fair but life is not all the time either.

I called him tonight and asked him to come see our child tomorrow. He said that he is going to and I'm happy about that. I'm hoping after a couple more visits, the child can start spending alone time with his father.

I did complete parenting classes and that is why I feel it would be a good idea for him. Were new at this and I didn't know everything either but the classes helped out a lot. So, I thought if I had the court order him that, it would be good for him, myself, and the child. It's not that I'm putting him down, the classes are just helpful.

Our age difference does not seem to interfer much with us. We are both basically at the same stage. Let me ask you this: He was an alcoholic and I had an eating disorder. We've both had some form of addiction(which made us grow stronger and wiser) but will that have an affect in court? I know nothing about the system, never used it before. He has an advantage, I don't.

I just want what is best for our child and I think he does too. I'm hoping with your advice and our communication that we can stay out of court( for the child's sake) and be mature enough adults and work this out.

If we were to sign a paper(with our own custody agreement) would that hold up in court, if there was ever a problem?

Or, could one of us fight that in court, and saying something like " I've never signed that".

I will keep you posted on what we decide.

Thank you for your time and your helpful advice.

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My Answer:
Hi,

Background to your situation is located here.

For ease of answering these further questions, I'm just going to copy/paste your questions.

"What is a reasonable amount to ask for child support?

    You live in Pennsylvania. Example: if you net $1500/month, and if the father nets $2500/month, and if you have the child 80% of the time, the court would order him to pay in the neighborhood of $450/month (plus/minus a bit of money). I suggest you look at what support you truly need for the child, and propose something less than $450/month. At the same time, it's very important for you to work too-- your state expects you to contribute financial support as well. It is UNACCEPTABLE for him not to support his child. This isn't a custodial/noncustodial thing. Even if the the child lived mostly with the father, the father would have to support his kid.


When is a good time for the child to start staying over night with him?

    It can happen whenever the child is clearly comfortable with the father and well-bonded, and after the father has introduced some nice naptime routines that can easily transfer to bedtime routines (for the child's ease of falling asleep and minimizing trauma). There are a couple well-accepted periods in a child's life where security is an issue. Look up that in a child development book, and just don't change any routine during those periods (usually one or two months, from one stage to the next).

I have no problem with the child staying on the weekends that he has off. However, I would like 2 weekends with the child too-as I would give him.

    If dad has frequent time throughout the week with the child, then it should be fine (and fair) that you alternate weekends with him.


What exactly is joint custody and how many days a week is that/or hours a week? Does he have exactly what I have, or is one the main caretaker, one home address, etc?

    People get so hung up on terminology... primary caretaker, sole custody, joint custody, etc. Those are legal terms that have nothing to do with raising a child. I suggest you really focus on a parenting plan that will help you raise this child with the father (i.e., outline the details of the schedule, who can make what decisions if not jointly, who pays for what, extra time for like holidays or vacations, etc). Believe it or not, parents who aren't separated/divorced actually have great success in raising children without ever discussing "custody" or "primary caretaker"! Custody is a legal term that means something in court, related mostly to overall decision-making authority and physical possession. It offers no details for daily living nor parenting schedule. Try to draw up a parenting plan without using those words, for now.

How do I keep his parents involved, if he don't?

    At this point, I'd suggest that you leave it up to the father to keep his parents involved. Leave it for six months to see what he does (i.e., though you profess to predict the future, I bet your crystal ball is a fake one). Let his parents know that out of respect for him, you're going to let him keep them involved. It's an added complexity right now that you don't need. Your baby won't even KNOW about these things called Grandma/Grandpa for another year. It would be different if his folks were nearby and seeing the baby regularly. But they're not. So, don't stress about it.

As far as the other child that he left, I just don't want the same to happen with this child. I do not want to have to tell our child that his daddy decided to leave.

    Ummmm, this didn't seem to be a concern when you were having sex with him. You knew he had a child that he never saw. Intentionally or accidentally, you picked him as this child's father (unless you claim that he raped you). So... given that I've already pointed out that you can't predict the future, you are completely wasting emotional energy on this issue. If it happens, you'll deal with it. If it doesn't happen, you won't have to deal with it. You have no choice in whether it happens or not.

He was an alcoholic and I had an eating disorder. We've both had some form of addiction(which made us grow stronger and wiser) but will that have an affect in court?

    AHA! I knew you had control issues, eh? If you're both "cured", then it's irrelevant. If either of you bring it up, it'll merely look malicious. Things are only relevant in a custody decision if it has a tangible and actual impact on the child's welfare. There are a few things, including ACTIVE alcoholism, that the court has accepted as extremely negative for a child. But, generally, one has to show actual impact, not speculation of what will happen in the future (as you've been framing your primary case).

If we were to sign a paper(with our own custody agreement) would that hold up in court, if there was ever a problem?

    The only thing that holds up in court is a court order. That piece of paper would be used as evidence to show intent of an arrangement, which the court can consider in forming its own ruling. But that paper would have no enforcement properties, no.


In making these decisions, try to ask yourself, "Will my 18 year old child be proud of me for making this decision?" That really helps keep you focused on the child.

Also, look into the excellent book Mom's House Dad's House for some good guidance in building a good co-parent relationship. I don't list it on my Recommended Books because it requires two reasonable people who are able to work together, and most of my site is dealing with situations where at least one parent is unreasonable.

I'm going to offer final words, totally unsolicited, so take them for what they're worth... you didn't mention whether you're in school, employed, or whatever. You had a child in less than ideal circumstances, and that alone will be a huge challenge in your life; but it should not come at the cost of your life.

You're clearly a bright, articulate young woman. Find a way to complete college, if you're not currently on that course. Find a part-time job that is in a supportive environment, to keep you connected to the real world. Chart a course to be on your own within 2 to 3 years. Aside from being present for your child (with help from your parents while you build your life), one of the best things you can do for your child is to model the importance of education and achievement. You've got an exhausting number of years ahead of you, to do it right, but the payoff for you and your child will be tremendous.

Eric





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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