Friend needs help... (custody battle) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 07-19-2008, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#2 of 31 Old 07-19-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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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!
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#3 of 31 Old 07-19-2008, 11:07 PM
 
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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.
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#4 of 31 Old 07-21-2008, 06:37 PM
 
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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.
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#5 of 31 Old 07-21-2008, 06:55 PM
 
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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.
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#6 of 31 Old 07-21-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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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.

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#7 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 09:26 AM
 
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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.
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#8 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#9 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 01:57 PM
 
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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.
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#10 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 02:27 PM
 
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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.
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#13 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#14 of 31 Old 07-22-2008, 07:27 PM
 
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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.
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#15 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#16 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 10:33 AM
 
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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.
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#17 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#18 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:05 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!!!

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#20 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:26 PM
 
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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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#21 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:36 PM
 
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Wow, this thread is making me so sad.

Listen, every family is different. I'm absolutely of the midset that the children should come first, and with very, very few exceptions, I truly believe that most parents are doing the best that they can at any given time.

"The best that I can" may be different for me than it is for you.

All 5 of the parents in my children's lives (me, DH, my XH, DH's XW and my DCs stepmom) have, at one point or another, made the decision to not take a better job out of state because it would have meant disrupting our ability to be in our children's lives. But that's just us. We made a choice to make less (in some cases a lot less!) money or to forfeit career advancement in favor of staying near the kids. Fortunately, we had the luxury of making that choice. I sure that there are others who don't.

I've known families that have made all sorts of different kinds of decisions around how close they live to their X in order to maintain contact with the kids. Some families go the "school year with me, summer with him" route. In some families, the kids live with one parent and spend all holidays and parts of the summer with the other parent. In some families, the children travel to see a parent and in some families the parent travels to see the children. I've known home-schooling families that have a "month on-month off" arrangement.

It's hard to be a parent, and having to share a child with an ex (possibly over miles) is even harder. But we all have choices and sacrifices to make. Some of us here sacrificed a nuclear family with mom, dad and dear child all under the same roof so that we could dare to dream that we could be happy, despite divorce. Some of us sacrificed good jobs for proximity to the kids and some of us have sacrificed proximity to the kids for good jobs.

The OP's friend has a choice to make, and either way, it will involve sacrifice. He needs to evaluate, for himself, what's truly important to him. I choose to believe that someone in that situation is doing the best that they can as a parent (or soon-to-be parent). It is not for me to judge his choice if he's truly trying to do the best thing for his child.

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#22 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:49 PM
 
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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.
Wow, he does sound rather pathetic. The ex-fiance is probably right to move and try to rebuild her life without him. Perhaps she and the child would be better off without someone who even has to think for a moment about whether he'll be in his child's life and then enlists the support of sympathetic friends to support his rationalizations.

You are absolutely right. I have no clue what that's like and really have nothing more to contribute. I can't think of why anyone would need to offer "constructive advice" to convince a parent to remain in his or her child's life. :
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#23 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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mild adventurer, what you describe are some of the multitude of ways of "making it work" and doing the best one can to have a close relationship with one's kids.

I don't advocate any one particular method. (I do believe that most people do the best they can for the most part.) I just don't buy the line "it's too hard so I can't do anything"...

For the original situation that started this thread, there isn't much that can be said or done or suggested until the man in question makes a few very tough decisions (does he even believe the child could be his and if it is his does he *want* to be involved and if he does want to be involved how far is he willing to go to make that happen?) AND until it is determined that the child is indeed his. Until he makes those decisions and is ready to act on his decisions, everything else while interesting discussion in and of itself is moot for his situation.
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#24 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mooni, I ask that you please edit your post as it is quite disrespectful to call my friend pathetic when you do not even know him.

I'm sorry that is is so easy for most people to just make the decision to scarifice their entire lives for a child, but it does not come that easily to everyone and they should not be ridiculed and given disrespectful names because they need help.

I think asking for help and advice are signs he cares. He asked me to come here for advice, for maybe accounts of anyone else living this nightmare of never have been given a choice...

Every post you have made has been disrespectful and certainly not helpful.

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#25 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For the original situation that started this thread, there isn't much that can be said or done or suggested until the man in question makes a few very tough decisions (does he even believe the child could be his and if it is his does he *want* to be involved and if he does want to be involved how far is he willing to go to make that happen?) AND until it is determined that the child is indeed his. Until he makes those decisions and is ready to act on his decisions, everything else while interesting discussion in and of itself is moot for his situation.

He won't be able to find out if he is indeed the Father until November, when the child is actually born.


He does want children, and would love to be a Father and in a child's life... but he is not sure how to do that given his current financial abilities, and you can't really telephone or video conference a newborn...

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#26 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
He does want children, and would love to be a Father and in a child's life... but he is not sure how to do that given his current financial abilities, and you can't really telephone or video conference a newborn...
No, you can't, but millions of newborns around the world get to know and love and feel close to grandparents (for example) that live very far away. Little by little, over time, as they grow.

Quite frankly, the only three real obstacles that I see are (in order of priority):

(1) Determining whether or not he is actually the father since from what you have said there is legitimate room for serious doubt that he is indeed the father. (This probably can't be done until the child is born, unless MI law allows for in-utero testing to determine paternity--some states do and the medical tests for that exist).

(2) HIS deciding what he wants to do and making a real commitment to figure out "his path" and the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. (He can make some progress on this while waiting to overcome hurdle No. 1, and, indeed, should probably make his main decision (to be involved or not) before undertaking any action to force his ex to cooperate with overcoming #1).

and

(3) The child's mother's resistance and unwillingness to facilitate anything. But even this is not fully an obstacle. Sure, it will make everything harder and more expensive. It will force more creative thinking because he won't have complete freedom to "do it 100% his way". But it won't make it "100% impossible" (unless she fights to keep him completely out of the child's life in court and wins, of course).

The only "obstacle" I don't see is distance. It is a complication. A confounding factor. An additional and sizable difficulty. Yes, all that. But NOT a "definitive obstacle".
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#27 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Now that was written very constructively. Thank you Ione.

I agree with your order... and I guess I was lumping ex as part of distance as she is the one creating it. But I see your points and I appreciate you writing them out in that manner, as it makes much more sense and is clear. I shall pass this onto my friend.

I know he has been working hard at talking to lawyers this week, and doing a lot of thinking too.

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#28 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 02:14 PM
 
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Mooni, I ask that you please edit your post as it is quite disrespectful to call my friend pathetic when you do not even know him.
I said he "sounds pathetic" based on your representation of him. As in, there's a sense of helplessness and loss of control that appears to be there, but in reality, is not necessarily so.

I will sign off because I do agree with you that I am finding it difficult to conjure up "respect" here.
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#29 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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JSMa,

Given all the information you've given, I think the best thing you can do for your friend at this point is strongly recommend that he refrain from permenant or black/white thinking and take actions that keep his options open.

For example, for now the best thing to do is try to be as cordial as possible with the ExFi to be able to establish paternity ASAP after the child's birth. He will be responsible for unpaid medical bills and CS regardless of whether or not he chooses to take an active role in the child's life. "Letting" the mother disappear will not absolve him of this financial responsibility and at any time in the future he could be nailed with a hefty CS bill or damaged credit report because of this. Likewise, he will also want to make sure his child has adequate health insurance because as a parent he will be on the hook for the child's subsequent medical expenses. Unless the mother is willing to legally disolve your friend's paternity, which is highly unlikely, he might as well be proactive in this department.

As far as how much of a presence he wishes to be in the child's life, he has a while to determine this and as was previously posted, there are MANY different ways to approach this. In addition to child support and savings for college, my DH sent letters and gifts to his daughter during her early years. He "met" her for the first time when she was six. Four years later they talk on the phone regularly, e-mail, and we have holiday and summer parenting time. It is possible she may come to live with us in a few years to take advantage of better educational opportunities here. Despite the early separation, my SD is extremely attached to her dad and longs for his love and approval. She often says the happiest day in her life was meeting her dad.

Your friend may decide not to have any contact with his child and that is his choice to make. However, it is quite likely that his personal circumstances will change over the next 18 years and he shouldn't put up unnecessary obstacles. He may get back together with his fiance, he may be transferred to MI, he may win the lottery and money is no object, he may meet the woman of his dreams who refuses to marry him once she realizes that he has no contact with his child, the mother may become a drug addict/child abuser and without contact at all the child would become a ward of the state, he may raise a family and have the child show up on his doorstep at age 15 asking why he never called/wrote/visited etc. Obviously some of these things are more likely than others. The point I'm trying to make is that your friend shouldn't paint himself into a corner. He has a good 3-4 years to decide how involved he wants to be with his child on a regular basis. While it is true that by not living with the mom (or even in state) it is very unlikely that he will have a close relationship with the child when they are young like an in-home dad would, it doesn't mean that he can't have a loving and meaningful relationship with his child ever.

I hope this helps!
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#30 of 31 Old 07-23-2008, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for sharing your story McFeelings! It is very good to hear that your DH was able to establish a fucntioning relationship with his daughter once she was a little older.

I think the infant part and how can he communicate with an infant living states away is mind blowing to my friend right now.

You bring a lot of good points up and some very positive outcomes. I am sure he will be happy to hear that.

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