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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>My daughter is one and her biological dad left us when she was 4 months old. Since that time, he's seen her about 10-12 hours a month for short 3-4 hour visits. Because I was still married when she was born, my husband (not bio dad) is on the birth certificate which was all fine and dandy. Told bio dad he didn't ever have to pay child support, etc. He's now starting to threaten to go after me for joint physical custody.  I have no intention of not letting bio dad see her and really want nothing from him. Bio dad can't give up his paternal rights and let my husband adopt because he currently has no rights as my husband is her legal father. My husband is fine with being legally responsible for her even though we may or may not reconcile.</p>
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<p>So, anyone in Maryland, is there really a chance he could get her more than just visitation. The thought of that scares me. My daughter hasn't been away from me at night and really not more than 3-4 hours at a time. Any advice on how to plan for the future. Bio dad has three other children which I would think would keep him plenty busy and he's offered no support (emotional, moral, financial or otherwise) since he left.</p>
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<p>Sort of rambling but really anxious about this whole situation.</p>
 

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<p>He would have to first establish paternity in court (through DNA testing) and get the birth certificate changed. Only after all that is done would he be able to ask for custody.</p>
 

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<p>Sorry, it is unclear.  Is it her bio-dad that is threatening to take full custody or your husband?  I'm not sure what the current trends are, but they do tend to swing like a pendulum.  If it is her biodad, it depends on whether or not you are in a "sanctity of marriage" state--ie, no one can challenge that a child born to a married couple is the child of a third party or a state where he can come in and say "hey, this is my kid--and I demand a paternity test and to be recognized as this child's father."  But, he'd have to go through the family court system to  prove and be recognized as the father first.  If it is your husband, I've seen it go both ways--but it really depends upon the age of the child, and who the primary caregiver is and the relationship between the child and (legal)dad.</p>
 

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<p>I don't know Maryland but I know the standard/basic laws. If bio dad filed to establish paternity then a DNA test would be done through the courts. Once established then yes he would have rights to custody. This process could easily take several months and maybe you could work out a custody plan with him (after the paternity is established!!) where you build up visits gradually over time until the baby is comfortable enough/old enough to do over nights. Until he filed paternity though you may have nothing to worry about. It could be a control issue or false threat. Maybe if you remain reasonable with visits he won't pursue through the court. Maybe remind him that once paternity is established then by law he will have to pay child support. That makes a lot of men drop the threat pretty quickly.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>Bio dad is threatening. My husband is happy to help me raise her even if we decided to divorce. I think you're right re: child support. I've said he can see her and want nothing. I wonder if anyone knows how often bio dads really do go and file for paternity. Seems to me that he'd be happy with basically a "free" kid - gets to visit/see her with no legal responsibility.</p>
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I also agonize over what would happen if I were to pass away -- I guess again bio dad would have to go for paternity and hopefully the fact that she's been with my husband and I, would at least give a judge pause to consider keeping her with my husband and her older brother.</p>
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Thanks for listening and the advice. I really wonder sometimes how I got myself into this mess. I guess I should take faith in the fact that I have a great kid :)</p>
 

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<p>Legally, there's nothing for you to do right now. It sounds like he's just strutting his stuff and putting on a show in which case you just nod and let him babble. Let's say he does go and establish paternity and sue for custody...unless there's a big ugly skeleton in your closet, a judge is likely just going to enforce your current visitation arrangement and order child support. If he's never had an overnight and never requested one, he's not going to get joint legal or physical custody either. He's going to have to hire himself a lawyer and this will cost him quite a bit of money so I wouldn't worry about it until he actually serves you with papers.</p>
 
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