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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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I live in the state of Maryland. The father of my unborn child

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I live in the state of Maryland. The father of my unborn child was separated from his wife for most of the time we dated. He moved in with me for a while, and then has been back and forth for the past year. I found out I was pregnant in December and he has been in and out of my life going back and forth between myself and his wife since then. He has finally left again and sent me a text message saying that he would take my son from me and fight me for full custody basically because he doesn't want to "share" my son. Also, I believe that this is a tactic to avoid child support that he told me months ago he did not want to have to pay. He said that he has a nicer home and because he lives with his wife and I don't have a significant other that he would have no problem getting full custody and taking my son from me. He even made a threat saying that he would get social services involved because my house is messy (basically just trying anything to get my son away from me and hes not even born!Also my house being "messy" is just some piles of laundry in my bedroom that he saw last time he was there.) He said that he will have me in court as soon as my son is born. He won't be on the birth certificate, as I am going to give my son my last name. The father has been in and out of this situation so many times and he hasnt been there for any of my many doctors appointments, or anything. I have paid for everything on my own without his financial help or even support. He threatened saying if i give him my last name hes going to take me to court for full custody and will settle for nothing less than "allowing" me "visitation". I told him many times I would be willing to work with him and figure out a custody arrangement and vistitation that would be fair for both of us. And now hes displeased with this basically and says he wants ALL custody or he will "take me down a legal path that will leave you bruised and hating me". I know I should file for custody and support as soon as my son is born, but is this the best step? Also, due to his hostility i'm not sure I want him anywhere near me, but will it reflect poorly on me in the courts eyes if I don't allow visitation before an order is established through the courts? Or will it just make me look like a jerk trying to keep him from his son?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. I am sending this answer to you only a few minutes after you submitted your question.
Basically, when a child is born, unless both parents acknowledge paternity, a man has no rights or responsibilities to a child. Therefore, if a mother declines to acknowledge paternity, the father would have to file a paternity action and, because the man isn't the child's father, he would have no entitlement to visitation. He would also have no duty to support the child. If you were to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, you would probably want to pursue a custody order because, until such an order exists, the mother and the father have equal rights. In the process, a court would establish visitation for the other parent.
Refusing to work with a parent for visitation purposes prior to a court order could potentially affect a court's view of a situation, though it often doesn't. A parent generally has no legal obligation to provide another parent with visitation unless there's a court order and failing to do so may have little effect on the outcome of such matters. If a judge believes that interference with the relationship between the child and the other parent will be ongoing, that will be more likely to affect the outcome of the order. However, if there are other reasons (for instance, fear that a child won't be returned, etc.), the impact may often be minimal or nonexistent.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Would my filing for full custody and naming him as the defendant eventhough he will not be on the birth certificate (or have signed an acknowledgement of paternity before then) automatically constitute MY acknowledgement of his paternity? therefor giving him rights to my child automatically?
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
No. Before you could file for custody, the child would have to have a legal father and paternity would have to be established to accomplish that. Until the child has a legal father, you would be the only parent, making you the custodial parent.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I was told by an attorney that I should be the one to file first, since the father says he is going to file for full custody. So are you saying that because hes not named on birth certificate and hasn't acknowledged paternity legally that i would not even be able to do that?
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Until and unless paternity is established, a man is not a child's legal father. In other words, without paternity, a man is legally a stranger to a child and the mother is the only parent (and thus the custodial parent). Therefore, without paternity, there's no need to file for custody and there's no other parent to name in the suit for custody.
Your attorney knows more about your situation than I possibly could in this forum and I would never attempt to refute anything your attorney would tell you. However, you might ask for clarification on the issue of filing first or second, as I think there may be a misunderstanding between the two of you. As a general rule, it shouldn't matter which parent files first when it comes to the final outcome of a custody matter. However, your attorney may be trying to avoid the risk of emergency or temporary orders in favor of your ex if your ex might possibly allege that you are unfit or that the child is unsafe. That said, whether a parent files or responds to a filing, the ultimate outcome is supposed to be based on a child's best interests and the order of filing shouldn't affect that.
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