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Friend needs help... (custody battle)

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
So my dear friend just found out that his fiancee (now ex) is pregnant and she is leaving him. She hid the pregnancy from him and he isn't even really sure if it is his at this point.

Currently they live in Massachusettes, and his ex is moving to Michigan. She is due in November.

He is going to be calling lawyers this week, and knows that first he needs to establich paternity... Does anyone know what this entails? She won't go voluntarily so I imagine it will have to go to court? But she is moving to Michigan next week!

If he is the Father... how does he fight for visitation with it being in different states? And I imagine any child support laws will go by where the Mother is residing, in Michigan?

My heart is breaking for him right now.... they were to be married in September and I was in their wedding...

Any advice, experience anyone has to offer on anything similiar would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 31
My BF is having issues with his ex and working out a custody agreement, and they were never married.
I think that contacting a lawyer is key. From what I have learned here on this board, your friend really needs to make sure that he knows how to find her. The court can order her back, but obvs they have to know where to serve her. A lawyer will know more, but each parent has rights married or not.
Good Luck!
post #3 of 31
I also think that the laws regarding establishing paternity vary from state to state. I imagine that he'll need a court ordered paternity test. I've used the website divorcesource.com it has some state-by-state areas, but just a warning, it is less warm and fuzzy than this place! Also, fathers' rights groups in your friend's state may know where to start.
post #4 of 31
Assuming she will want CS from your friend, she will have to name him as the father once the baby is born. Usually that means putting his name on the birth certificate. If there is a question as to whether he is the father, your friend can request a DNA test. If she doesn't name him as the father, he would likely have to petition the court to have the child tested. I assume that would be under the jurisdiction in which the child is born.
post #5 of 31
MI requires a CS order before any state assistance can be issued, including food stamps and medical assistance. So, IF she needs any type of help she will need to list him on the birth cert. She can't just list him w/o his permission or a paternity test as far as I know.
post #6 of 31
Before your friend signs anything admitting paternity, make sure he has a DNA test done. About 30% of the time, the man the mother claims to be the father is actually not. This is as much to protect himself as it is to protect the rights of the father, if it turns out not to be him.

He needs to get in contact with an attorney who specializes in child custody issues ASAP. It's going to be expensive and possibly unpleasant, but if he really wants to maintain a relationship with this child, he has to be proactive about it. State laws vary and so make sure he gets counsel from someone in his locale. Since her move is impending, he might want to do this sooner than later.
post #7 of 31
You've gotten good advice so all I have to add from our experience is document, document, document. Your friend should hold on to all letters, e-mails, text messages that indicate they were in a relationship in one state when she got pregnant AND that she is choosing both to end the relationship and move to another state. This information may be helpful down the road when travel expenses are determined for the child to see each parent. It will also show proof of desire of involvement in the child's life all along which can color custody disputes as well.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Right now he is unsure if he wants to try to be involved in the child's life or not.

He works an very demanding job and does not have much time off. Plus he can't afford to travel from Rhode Island to Michigan on any kind of frequent basis. He is going to have a hard enough time finding a place he can afford by himself. Let alone any extra money for travel costs, especially after child support.

He doesn't want to be the "holiday Dad". He has always been an all or nothing sort of guy. He doesn't want to do anything half assed, and to him parenting a handful of times a year isn't his thing at all.... but he doesn't see much other choice since his ex is already moving to Michigan, and right now there is no way to stop her.

He won't be signing the birth certificate as he won't be there. His ex doesn't want him coming out for the birth and doesn't even want to speak to him... just threatening him with how much money she is going to demand of him. But she is still refusing a paternity test...

He is supposed to be talking to lawyers this week... but there really isn't much time as she is moving next week.


Does anyone know if the law in Michigan is that there must be a paternity test done prior to serving a child support order?
post #9 of 31
They can't issue an order for support to just any guy that any woman says is the father of her child. Imagine how many "children" some one like George Clooney would have if that were allowed (in any state.) If the mother wants to get CS for the child, she will have to confirm that your friend is the father before the courts will do anything. The easier way to do this is if he signs the birth certificate. The longer, more complex way to do it involves a paternity test, performed after the child is born.
post #10 of 31
I can only say that in my case, in order to get CS from my DH, because he isn't on the birth certificate, the mom had to swear an affidavit that he is the father, giving him paternal rights.
post #11 of 31
Just because I love Google:

From: http://www.michigan.gov/dhs/0,1607,7...7443--,00.html

How to Establish Paternity (put name of father on the birth certificate)

Establishing paternity by including the father on the birth certificate gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents.

Children with legal fathers are entitled to benefits through their fathers. These include Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits, and inheritance rights. Children may also benefit by knowing the family's biological, cultural, and medical history.

When a married couple has a child, the law automatically recognizes the husband as the child's legal father so paternity does not need to be determined.

When an unmarried woman has a child, an official act is needed to establish the legal father of the child. This is called the establishment of paternity.

Child support offices may assist either parent in establishing paternity for a child who does not have a legal father. Paternity must be established before the court can order child support.

Paternity can be established in the following ways:

* If a child is born to an unmarried mother, she and the alleged father can sign an Affidavit of Parentage form at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,...8708--,00.html to legally establish the father's legal rights (sometimes referred to as paternity acknowledgment), or
* The mother and the alleged father can ask the court to determine the legal father of the child. The prosecuting attorney's office in each county is responsible for filing and prosecuting actions to establish paternity.

Sometimes a parent may want proof that the man is the biological father of the child before he is named the legal father. In that case, either parent may request genetic testing. This testing will show either:

* the man is not the biological father of the child, or
* a greater than 99% likelihood that the man is the father of the child.


Once paternity is established, an order for child support can be established.

* For questions on paternity establishment contact a DHS support specialist toll-free at 1-866-540-0008.

Good luck to your friend. Looks to me like he can demand a paternity test before she collects a dime. So she will have to give in.
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Right now he is unsure if he wants to try to be involved in the child's life or not.

He works an very demanding job and does not have much time off. Plus he can't afford to travel from Rhode Island to Michigan on any kind of frequent basis. He is going to have a hard enough time finding a place he can afford by himself. Let alone any extra money for travel costs, especially after child support.

He doesn't want to be the "holiday Dad". He has always been an all or nothing sort of guy. He doesn't want to do anything half assed, and to him parenting a handful of times a year isn't his thing at all.... but he doesn't see much other choice since his ex is already moving to Michigan, and right now there is no way to stop her.
"Isn't his thing"?! Well that may very well be the reality, one which this child never asked for, right? It sounds like he's looking to bail but doesn't want to be painted as the bad guy. This part needs to be sorted out before anyone spends any energy giving him advice. I hope he's getting some counseling. He's in a pretty overwhelming situation and might make a decision he regrets just to avoid the pain.
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
He's not looking to bail Mooni...

If the results come back that he is indeed the Father, he fully intends to pay support... but what he is contending with emotionally is how will he actually ba a part of this child's life since the Mother is moving several states away... this wasn't his choice!!

It is unfair to paint him as a guy that just bails when his ex totally is screwing him.

He has no problem supporting financially if the child is indeed his... but emotionally... considering he will never see the child... he thinks it might be better to not be involved since A) The Mother doesn't want him to be so it would be a fight from the start... B) Because she decided to move so far away he cannot afford to see the child often, and he doesn't want the child growing up with the emotions/stress of having to deal with the "stranger/holiday parent"


They have been together for three years and she was on birth control without any issues, not once did they have an "oops" moment.... then out of nowhere she magically gets pregnant when they had not even had intercourse in months....

My friend didn't choose this either.
post #14 of 31
Based on your description, it sounded like he was thinking about not being involved at all with his own child, and now it sounds like the baby couldn't possibily be his. .:

Ex be da*ned . . . nothing should keep a child from knowing a parent, but the parent has to step up and not make excuses.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Magically coming up with an $1,000 travel money every month to go see the child (if it is indeed his) is hardly just an excuse. I don't know anyone who has extra cash like that laying around.

Please tell me how you can sit there and pass judgement so easy? Would you do it?
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Please tell me how you can sit there and pass judgement so easy? Would you do it?
Would I do what? Be in the lives of the kids I created? Hellooooooo . . .?

That "pass judgement" bit is a strategy intended to shut down the conversation, and you know it. I would love to have a entire thread on the whole "judgemental" schtick.

You present this guy as a poor schmuck who got involved with a conniving, mattress-hopping femme fatale. He wants to preserve his parental rights, then he may not want to travel or move, then the kid may not be his.

How about, find out if the kid is yours and then do the right thing and be in the kid's life, no matter how you have to figure it out financially or logistically? Part-time, full-time, here, there--as long as the kid knows that dad chose to stick it out and know him or her--then, boom, there's your answer. The rest is a self-serving dance, with enabling friends providing the music.
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
If you say so... you should try walking a mile in the shoes of a parent who is forced to live thousands of miles away and forced to come up with hundreds-thousand extra dollars a month just to say "well I made the attempt, but the child resents me anyway because I'm not there enough"

I'd like to know then if you still sing the same tune.


If you read my first post thoroughly there is a lot going on.... sorry but it's not an easy decision, just to be made...


And they have been together over three years... she wasn't a bed-hopping crazy the whole time. They were planning a wedding... this all came pretty much out of the blue.


He is very torn on what he should do if the child is his... instead of going off on what you think would be so easy to do, why not offer some constructive advice about how or why it would be important for him to give up his entire life and career to try to be more involved?

The only way he'd be able to see the child is to quit his job and move states away where he doesn't have a job, a single friend or family member... Newsflash: It takes money to raise a child, so if he quits his job there is no telling if he will be able to land another immediately... then how would he even have a place to live?

Everything is not black and white... if it is in your world, that must be some fantastic place to be.
post #18 of 31
My stepdad (just plain "dad" in my heart, BTW) and mom got divorced when their kids (my siblings--there were no "steps" in our house, although I had 2 families) were all under 6. Because of the circumstances, the only option was for my mother to move herself and the kids from CA to MN while their father stayed in CA.

Having seen and lived what he did in that situation, I have very little sympathy for anyone who claims it is "too hard" to be a part of your kids lives when they are far away. BS. Excuses.

Sure, all 3 of my sibs went through a period in their late teens of being angry at him for "not being there when they were growing up", but they have all reached the conclusion that he WAS there for them, every minute of every day.

He spoke to them daily. Several times a day sometimes. He flew half-way across the country every other weekend. Sometimes 3 weekends in a row when there was an important event going on. Never let more than one weekend go by in a row without seeing them in person. Knows more about their lives than anyone else.

He was not a rich man. Middle-middle income at best. Still isn't. He probably never will be precisely because every spare cent and then some went to keeping up the relationship with his kids rather than into retirement savings or investments or the like. The only property he ever bought was a small house near his kids so that he would have a place to stay with him on his visits and could still be near all their school and neighborhood friends so that they wouldn't have to miss their daily lives to be with him. Nothing for himself (except the least expensive cars available, which he drove until they died).

And he did all this without a word of complaint. Without a whisper of complaint. Without any self-pity. Because his kids were his priority.

And he'd do it again in a flash. Indeed, he IS doing it again now that his kids are grown to develop a close relationship with my daughter and be a grandfatherly presence in her life.

What is more, once he accepted responsiblity for me, entered my life, agreed to be what I needed him to be (a second father, my dad, so that I had a (bio)"father" and (step under the law only) "dad"), he has never faltered in his devotion to me either. I was much older, so the configuration of his devotion took another form. But it was as real and as true and as sincere as his devotion to my siblings. And, again, never a word or whisper or even thought of complaint.

I admit, he has set the bar very high for me. But there it is.
post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 
If you don't mind me asking, how long ago was this that he was flying from CA to MN every other weekend?

I don't know any middle person that could possibly afford to do that now and still feed themelves.


Plane tickets have gone up considerably... plus their is lodging expenses.

It isn't idle excuses or really complaing... but the saying, "you can't get blood from a stone"... rings very true... if the money is not there, what are you supposed to do? He is already working near 70 hours a week!!!
post #20 of 31
He has been doing it (and is still doing it, although from time to time he'll skip a weekend now) for the past 25 years.

Plane fares were less when he started, true. But phone calls and other things were a hell of a lot more expensive (compared to income) or inexistant (no free VOIP calling back then, no video conferences which would have made daily contact easier when the kids were really little, no AIM, no text messages on cell phones, etc.).

I'm not saying anyone can do exactly the same thing he did these days. (However, today, there are a lot of new opportunities to do things that were not even dreamed of when he started down his path.)

What I AM saying is that where there's a will there's a way even if it means major sacrafices (and boy did he sacrafice a hell of a lot along the way) and a heck of a lot of "creative thinking" or "out of the box" thinking.
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