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My rights as a father before birth.

1 Answers. Asked on Mar 03rd, 2017 on Family Law - New York
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Hello. I have been with a woman that is much older than me for about a year (16 years apart - I am 29 and she is 45) and she recently became pregnant. She just told me a few days ago. We agreed that if we ended up in such a situation that the decision to move forward with the pregnancy would be decided by the both of us. This is the completely wrong time for me to have a child. I am relocating to SF for my career in less than a month and she is staying in NJ. She already has two teenage daughters (16 and half years old) and we settled that relocating her and her daughters is financially infeasible. She has taken a stance to keeping the baby despite all of this and is willing to have an abortion if I marry her now. I really feel like her concern is not for the child or us but herself. Can I do one of two things: 1. Get full custody of the child or 2. Shared custody but provide full support for the child financially/physically as opposed to child support through her?
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Answered on Mar 03rd, 2017 at 9:41 AM

What IS it with you unwed fathers this week?? Let's break this down. You want to know if a judge would give you, a single father with no other kids who never married the mother of his unborn baby, and is moving thousands of miles away from the mother, for his career, which the mother cannot do given she has two teenagers, would give YOU full custody of a newborn baby What do YOU think?

New Jersey law will determine custody in this situation, and I am a NY lawyer, but I will go out on a limb here, although you must check with a New Jersey attorney.  HELL NO. You will not be awarded custody of your unborn baby unless you can prove the mother is unfit- but first you must prove you're the father. It is YOUR burden to prove that.

Yes, the mother is thinking of herself. You both knew pregnancy was a possibility since you previously discussed it- and you could have prevented it.  And evidently she had the impression you were ready to be a dad, and apparently you are, since you want full custody of your unborn baby.  Clearly you never told her unequivocally that you don't want to marry her, since your baby mama is now hoping you will.  And her plan is if you leave her, at least she'd have a new baby. This is understandable. Single parents of teen, who even at age 16 have their own lives, start to feel lonely. (Notice the sharp increase in small dog ownership among that population if you look around your neighborhood.) 

Evidently, while your girlfriend is prepared to have the baby, she must be in love with you, since she'll have an abortion if you marry her.  First of all, I beg you not to do something as reprehensible as pretend you'll marry her just so she has an abortion. I saw a Law and Order episode with that plot and believe me, it did not end well for anyone.

Second of all, if you really want full custody of the baby, ASK.  Her answer might surprise you, since she's ready to have an abortion, and so is clearly ambivalent. If she says yes, you'd better have a great child care plan in place, and if not, be prepared to take the first few months of work off after the baby is born while you get one. If she says no, ask if she'll share legal (not physical) custody of the baby.  If she says no to that too, you still have to pay child support. Directly to her (who else- were you hoping to pay it directly to the baby?).  After you start regularly paying support, you'll have a very good case for court-ordered visitation, if necessary, particularly if the mother puts your name on the birth certificate, you sign an acknowledgement of paternity, register with the Putative Father Registry- and make yourself a positive presence in your baby's- and yes, in your baby mama's - lives. 





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Family Law
A family law attorney can guide you through the many legal issues facing couples, parents and their children. Family law lawyers can work with individuals who are engaged or married to create pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements. Family law attorneys will also work with individuals and couples seeking to start or grow a family through adoption. And law firms can work with individuals who are getting divorced to negotiate a divorce agreement, including alimony, palimony, the division of property and debts, child custody, child support and visitation.
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