What are my options....for a deadbeat dad?

Jessica Van - posted on 12/10/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )

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I'm due in 8 weeks. Have had a horrible few months dealing with my ex. He cheated, lied about drug use, and used me for child care of his other son while he did those things. He took me off his benefits and found someone new immediately when I gave him the opportunity for space and to clean up his act to be a dad. It sounds really white trash, but I am a pretty together, successful and educated person. He was a momentary lapse in judgement, that resulted in a tiny miracle I can't wait to meet.

My questions are pretty reasonable. What do I do about custody, visitations and child support? How do I ensure that baby is safe with me and not off with him being exposed to who knows what?

Leave him off the birth certificate?
Have custody settled immediately? How?
Have a written support agreement?

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Ledia - posted on 12/10/2014

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1. Leaving him off the birth certificate does not in anyway affect his rights to the child. In most states, it doesn't matter whether you put his name on it or not, the kid is still his too. In some states, if you do not put his name on the birth certificate, you may have to pay for a paternity test if you wish to establish child support orders.

2. Have custody settled immediately. The laws vary on this by state....I just assumed you are in the US. If not, they also vary by country, but I only know the US. Some states will allow you to establish custody and visitation before the birth, most require you to wait until after the birth. Speak with your lawyer for details on that, and the process for doing so--the process varies by state as well.

3. Have a written support agreement. A written agreement between just the two of you will not be legally binding unless you follow the laws for your state. Some states allow a notarized and witnessed document to stand in court as a legal contract, but if you go that route and he violates the contract, you would have to file action against him in civil court, not family court. It is best to have your lawyer walk you through setting up a child support agreement through a family court order. Often this can be done with a mediator and not an actual judge, which can save a lot of time and money, but if the two of you cannot come to an agreement on terms, you will have to go to court and let a judge decide the terms.

Additional info:
Child support and visitation are two separate things--cooperation in one is not dependent on the other. For example, if he stops paying child support, you cannot stop letting him see the child. Conversely, if he stops coming to visitation with the child or taking the child during his allotted time, he cannot stop paying support. For whatever reason, a lot of people in the US seem to think that when a father pays child support, he is paying for the right to see his child, which is not true.

Visitation and custody: If you fail to establish a legal agreement for custody and visitation, the father has the same rights to the child that you do. So if he shows up at your house in the middle of the night and takes the baby, he has a right to do that, and you will not have any legal assistance in getting the baby back other than filing for custody and taking him to court to establish custody and visitation rights.

If you intentionally make it difficult for him to see the child before your court orders are established, and he can prove that you tried to limit his access to his child, it will reflect poorly on you in court.

Do ALL of your communication with him via email and text, so that you have documentation.

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