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Father's Rights

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
Hoping for some good advice to help my friend.

He just got served child support notice yesterday for a child he has never even met, who is about a year and a half old now.

Basically, his ex was cheating on him and threatened him that she'd come after him for all kinds of support when she got pregnant. He didn't even know if the child was his or not.

She packed up and moved several states away while she was pregnant.

He had not heard from her since. He had heard through an old mutual friend that she had the baby somewhere around last November (2008).

He was never served a request for a paternity test so he figured she knew he wasn't the father and maybe sent something to the guy she was cheating with.

Now last night he was served papers for paternity to enstate child support, as well as retroactive child support.

It has been 15 months!!! Since this child was born! It just infuriates me that she has waited all this time to say/do anything! He has never even seen so much as a picture of this kid and still doesn't know for sure if it's his or not.

He is getting a lawyer and the paternity test... but this whole thing is just nauseating to me. It sickens me that men can get hit with thousands of dollars of retroactive support for a child they knew nothing about!!!

Anyway... does anyone know of any resources that may help my friend?

As it is this woman still lives states away. He still has never even seen a picture of this baby. It's not right to be made to pay for a child that you have been denied any relationship with.


EDIT: He is being told he needs to make the first payment during some conference meeting he has in March. But this is taking place before paternity testing... the woman is residing in I beleive, Michigan. I'm pretty sure the law states that paternity has to be established prior to any support being forced?! They were not married.

I'm thinking he should not pay anything until paternity has been proven... correct?
post #2 of 72
He needs to get a lawyer versed in interstate custody and child support; he will need Michigan counsel if he wants representation in court there, but a local attorney can get him off on the right foot.

(Standard "this isn't legal advice" disclaimer applies.)

He's probably being asked to make the payments starting in March because if he just admits paternity, he can do so and avoid much or all of the court involvement. Generally speaking, no, he's not required to pay just because someone identified him as a possible father. (Check the papers--there's probably something advising him that if he does nothing, the support order will kick in, but if he wishes to contest or appeal, he needs to do X. Obviously, he should do X.)

I wonder if the mother has applied for some public benefit and the state is insisting she establish paternity and get child support. (That's what happened with my husband's ex--no, she didn't need to establish paternity but she applied for a child care subsidy and the state came in and insisited they set up child support, even though they were still legally married and he was taking care of a lot of expenses directly rather than through a child support order. Anyhow.)

Michigan has some good self-help stuff to get him started:
http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/self.../paternity.htm
http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/self...ly/support.htm

Most other states have some sort of FAQ online, if this is not a Michigan case.

In most states (not sure about Michigan specifically), if they were married, the child is presumed his until tests prove otherwise (and even then, some judges won't terminate the parental rights if the biological father isn't around to step up, or, more commonly, if the husband has been raising the child as his own the whole time) and then the court could order child support without "proof" of paternity; since they were not married, there is no presumption.

If the child turns out to be his, the judge *can* award retroactive CS but (again, speaking generally) doesn't have to. They can work out a payment plan so it's not like a $15,000 hit all at once. (I've also seen judges yell at women who have kept their kids from their fathers like that, if they don't have restraining-order-type reasons, rather than award retroactive CS.) Support going forward will almost certainly be addressed.

Keep in mind that once paternity is established, your friend does have the right to begin to develop a relationship with his daughter, establish visitation, etc. He could even petition for custody (but is unlikely to get it unless the Mom's downright dangerous).

Best of luck to him!
post #3 of 72
I am sorry for your friend, and no I would not pay any support until paternity is determined.

I've had this happen to several friends, and I've told them the same thing - if the paternity test comes out to be positive, it's their responsibility to pursue visitation, joint custody whatever - even if that includes support.

Men that don't want to have children, should be more careful. Do I think it's necessarily fair? No. But it's life, and life is never fair either.
post #4 of 72
Thread Starter 
He does want children... and will be stepping up to take responsibility if it turns out that the child is his.

But right now he is very hurt and angry that she has waited 15 months to do anything. He has been robbed of the entire first year + of his "could-be-daughter's" life. And we have only just now seen a picture and know for sure that it is a she because we found the Mom on facebook.

He also has a facebook account, so it's not like it would have been hard to find him if she cared at all about having him in their life. *sighs*

It is so cruel for someone to do this not only to the Father, but to their baby!!

Apparently she hooked up with someone as soon as she moved back to Michigan... and his profile pic on facebook is of the three of them... so my friend is reeling a bit from that too that basically this child has been raised to beleive that this guy is her Dad, as he has been in pics since day one.

So why would Mom even disrupt everyone's life right now?! I am so angry for my friend.
post #5 of 72
And i bet if the baby is his and he gets visitation the mother will throw a fit about it and try to use that he hasnt been in her life to keep him from seeing her. I hate when parents use their children like that.

No advice, i just wanted to vent a little
post #6 of 72
Let me see:
* he knew he was having sex with her and, presumably, whether or not HE wore condoms
* he knew she was pregnant
* he knew she "threatened" to go after him for child support (so she must have known that there was a chance he was the father)
* he knew she moved away and didn't go after him right away for child support
* he even heard that she gave birth to a child

YET despite all that, he was happy enough to let it go, probably relieved--if only subconsciously, and whether or not he'll admit to it today--to have dodged a bullet with her, happy enough to not pursue finding out whether or not it was his child and his rights as a father (if it was his child) for 1.5 years.

And only NOW that he's been served for child support, he's all indignant that she kept the child from him and he missed out on "his-maybe-child's first year and a half"...

Um, sorry, I think I'll reserve my indignation for BOTH of them equally in this case.
post #7 of 72
Thread Starter 
Yes... I suppose he could have tried to fight her back when she was still pregnant... But you need money to start fighting things in court... lots of money for interstate when he is likely now going to have to travel to get to her state for court things.

He has no money. He was laid off around the time she was pregnant and had a really hard time getting another job. Even the job he has now, he isn't making much above minimum wage...

I love how everything always comes down to... "well the Father should fight for his rights..." Except not every Father has thousands of dollars lying around to fight for rights that are just given to the Mother naturally.

post #8 of 72
The only reason I can think of why a man wouldn't have gotten a paternity test right away is if he wasn't interested in being a father. If he was interested, he would have gotten a paternity test. I feel for him that his wife was cheating on him - there's just no excuse for that. But it's not a punishment to take a paternity test, you do it because you want to know.

I know it's biologically impossible for us women, but can you imagine your husband having a kid and maybe it's yours? And can you imagine just saying "oh well, he moved away" or whatever?

The excuse that he doesn't have a relationship with the kid just doesn't fly for me. That was his choice.

I can't IMAGINE not settling that question right from the get-go.
post #9 of 72
JSMa - I'm going to respectfully agree with Ione. It is up to BOTH parents to fight for their children. One parent doesn't get off scott free just b/c the other moved away. She threatened child support actions, he should have beat her to the punch and petitioned for visitation (you say he wants children after all).

And its all fine and good that he will accept responsibility for the little girl if he's the father, and he's on FB so easy to find. SHE is also on facebook, and easy to find. His excuses only go so far.

Now, that being said, if he wants visitation he should ask for it. If he's the father, he'll get it (so long as there's no reason for him not to).
post #10 of 72
So, it was OK for him to miss that time because he was waiting to have $$, but now that someone wants $$ from him, he's indignant that he missed it?

Um, nope, doesn't sound any better to me...

How about putting it another way: He was really just waiting to find a well-paying job to follow up on his potential fatherhood but going to follow up as soon as he was earning X amount?

Um, nope, doesn't really sound any better to me put that way either...

They both deserve equal indignation still in my book.

Edited to add: Especially since he was perfectly OK with letting the mother shoulder the entire financial and emotional burden of raising their (maybe) child on her own? And now that he might be asked to shoulder a share of that financial burden if the child is his, he's horribly upset that he missed a year and a half (by his own doing equally--she didn't lie to him and say she wasn't pregnant, and I'm assuming this wasn't a case of deliberate-on-her-part "oops-BC-failed", or he'd be indignant about that too)?
post #11 of 72
My story sounds like this kind of only I'm the woman and it took me over a year to get into court. You can't just go to court and say hey I want to file support and that's it next day the person gets served, it takes time to do that, I tried to file twice before I actually got it into court in the last 15.5 months and both times I got rejected due to lack of information or he "joined" the army and I had to wait for him to be done basic He ended up with a dishonorable discharge. And since September its been set back 3 times for him being unco-operative, he requested paternity I paid for my half, set the appointment and went and did it. He was required to do it by the 12th of January, he didn't, they set it over to the 9th of this month, he made such a fuss and was SOOOO difficult they let him make the appointment without paying and now he still hasn't paid and its been put over till the 2nd of next month. This guy has never met my son, never seen more then one pic of him. And when I called to tell him his son had been born he pretended to be someone else. That all being said, you don't know if this woman had tried to contact him and he just didn't say anything until he was served with papers. Men make us out to be the bad ones when they don't want to take responsibility for things. If this child is his regardless of if he gets visitation or sees this baby he is still responsible to this child financially. Just my .02.
post #12 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ione View Post
Let me see:
* he knew he was having sex with her and, presumably, whether or not HE wore condoms
* he knew she was pregnant
* he knew she "threatened" to go after him for child support (so she must have known that there was a chance he was the father)
* he knew she moved away and didn't go after him right away for child support
* he even heard that she gave birth to a child

YET despite all that, he was happy enough to let it go, probably relieved--if only subconsciously, and whether or not he'll admit to it today--to have dodged a bullet with her, happy enough to not pursue finding out whether or not it was his child and his rights as a father (if it was his child) for 1.5 years.

And only NOW that he's been served for child support, he's all indignant that she kept the child from him and he missed out on "his-maybe-child's first year and a half"...

Um, sorry, I think I'll reserve my indignation for BOTH of them equally in this case.
^^Yep.

I totally respect that he wants to be in the child's life if the child is his. He can make that happen, and could have before.

However, it doesn't matter that he has not met the child. If the child is his he owes child support. Child support and visitation are a separate issue.
post #13 of 72
Sorry, but I agree. Yo have sex with someone who then turns up pregnant, and teh dates *might* match, you pursue it. I'm not sure about Michigan, but here, a father can sign up with the state to say that he believes he is/mnight be the father of a child, and when the child is born, they will do paternity/support/custody. He could have done that. He could have contacted her around teh time of teh birth, or at any point in those 15 months to get a pat. test ordered. It doesn't take thousands of dollars. A few hundred, maybe, and some effort.
He shoudl just be honest. Say he might be the father, but he doesn't know, and wants the pat test. Here in my state, if her turns out to be the father, he has to pay for teh test, but if not, the mom has to pay for it. Could be different there. If he is the father, he'll get support ordered....as to back support, he may or may not, if he does, it'll be paid usually in teh form of a small payment each month until it's gone. He can also ask for visitation, but being in dif states will amke that difficult, especially sicne he's had no prior contact. He'll need to be prepared to maek a lot of trips, probably, untilthe child gets used to him, and by age 2 or so, he can probably get visits in his own town.
post #14 of 72
Thread Starter 
Actually him and her were living in Rhode Island when they were together (never married). She was supposedly on the pill... then when she became pregnant she told him that she actually wasn't on the pill.

The dates he was told that she conceived they were seperated and he is pretty sure he was actually in PA at the time visiting family. That in part is why he never pursued paternity earlier too... he was already about 90% sure he wasn't the Father given when she likely conceived.

It turns out he did try to contact her a few times to get updates on what was going on, because she was telling him he'd receive something about paternity after the baby was born. He has the last correspondence from her at the begining of Nov. 2008, a few weeks before the baby was born.

He tried contacting her several times after that but she never responded. He heard through the grapevine of mutual friends that she was definitely cheating on him, and in his mind since he was already 90% certain that they were seperated at the time she got pregnant... he honestly thought there was no way he was the Father, and since she dropped all communication with thim, and stopped answering his emails, he figured she had the baby and saw that the baby looked nothing like him and realized it was likely the baby of whoever she was cheating with.

I'm not saying he is right for not pursuing paternity on his own sooner... but given all the circumstances involved... I don't blame him for his line of logic to not do it either.
post #15 of 72
That's all well and good, JSMa. And I don't really blame him all that much either.

BUT in that case, there is no reason for him to be indignant about having missed out on 1.5 years that he did not want to be involved in. If he had really wanted to be involved from the start, he could have easily and inexpensively enough. He didn't. Which means that I personally don't have much patience for the "robbed me of my child's first 1.5 years" sob story part of it all.

That said, all of those reasons for not pursuing it sooner are, however, very good reasons to request a DNA test and not get emotionally involved until the results come back.

Lying about BC: totally unacceptable and worthy of more indignation than I can summon tonight. Way more.
post #16 of 72
Thread Starter 
*nods*

His emotions are pretty much all over the place right now because he is sort of re-living the end of his relationship with this woman too. She was not very nice to him, in fact I'd go as far to say she was very emotionally and verbally abusive.

When he was told by her that she had actually stopped taking her BC, he was pretty angry because she manipulated/controlled him with other things, and that was why they were seperated to begin with.
post #17 of 72
I agree with ProtoL that it may have started because she applied for state benefits of some kind. The same thing was set to happen to my husband (who was paying child support directly to mom, not through the state, which is how they both wanted it). We paid for private insurance instead because the state would pursue child support if they were paying for the child's medical insurance, and neither parent wanted to go that route.

Also, he may not have been the only person served with paternity and support papers, or he might be the first on the list, or he might be the next one on the list after eliminating other people, or he might be the easiest to find...

I certainly wouldn't pay anything until the court ordered me to do so because once you pay it, you will never ever get it back, even if it shouldn't have been paid in the first place-- my husband paid for half of some childcare mom claimed she was using, which he knew wasn't true. Mom had no proof of it (because it didn't exist) and finally admitted that she wasn't using childcare and that she didn't have any of the required proof of payment. My husband paid for 5 months of childcare that everyone knows didn't exist, but the child support office never ordered it repaid to him. In fact, my husband had to pay an extra month while the change was being processed in the computer system. I can certainly imagine the same thing happening while waiting for a paternity test to be done and processed...
post #18 of 72
"The only reason I can think of why a man wouldn't have gotten a paternity test right away is if he wasn't interested in being a father."

... and IMO, that's OK. It's all right to not want to be a father. It's even all right to trust your live-in gf to be taking the pills she says she's taking, to be infuriated when she admits to lying about using bc, and to want nothing to do with her, or her child, ever again. That's a legitimate way to feel.

Our contemporary cultural practice of automatically assigning paternity rights outside of marriage makes me INSANE. Why on Earth would I guy I had sex with once have a 50% claim to a baby I had nine months later? If men want to be fathers, they can darn well sign up for it (through marriage, through another kind of legal contract, whatever). Fatherhood is a privilege, not some odious burden. I wish our legal system treated it that way.

That said, under our current system, your friend is going to be on the hook for support if his sperm is the sperm that made the baby, so there's no point railing against it. He need a lawyer to guide him through the process. If you want to help him, JsMa, you'd better start praying that the kid isn't his. If the kid IS his, then he'll need a lot of help working through his feelings and deciding when/how/whether to pursue a role in his daughter's life.

I think it's very, very likely that this is coming up after 15 months because the mom applied for some kind of government aid. It's too bad she did that, and too bad that she didn't offer up "some guy at a bar, I think I was drugged" instead of letting the state chase down an ex that she CLEARLY not does want involved in her child's life. If it makes your friend feel better, JsMa, his ex may well be COMPLETELY APPALLED that he might be showing up asking for visitation, as she has clearly chosen to raise this child with another man. So he shouldn't assume that she's cackling in glee at the prospect of getting $$ from him. She may not have even fully realized that whatever action she took was going to bring him to her doorstep.

A terrible situation all around.
post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
Our contemporary cultural practice of automatically assigning paternity rights outside of marriage makes me INSANE. Why on Earth would I guy I had sex with once have a 50% claim to a baby I had nine months later? If men want to be fathers, they can darn well sign up for it (through marriage, through another kind of legal contract, whatever). Fatherhood is a privilege, not some odious burden. I wish our legal system treated it that way.
Is motherhood a privilege?
post #20 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by nine_rugrats View Post
And i bet if the baby is his and he gets visitation the mother will throw a fit about it and try to use that he hasnt been in her life to keep him from seeing her. I hate when parents use their children like that.

No advice, i just wanted to vent a little
I agree with that. That is what my boyfriend is going through.
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