Single Mom - Dealing With Dad
If you find yourself pregnant and not in a romantic relationship with the father of your baby, you have some important decisions to make about your future as a family. You might decide you want to go it alone and not even tell the Dad about the pregnancy, but be aware that should he find out later on, he could have some rights to the child. The way you interact with the baby's father will probably depend on his willingness to help out and be involved in the baby's upbringing. If you do want the father's assistance but he is uncooperative, you will have to be very patient and determined in order to get what you need from him. The law is on your side, and as long as your demands are reasonable, you can seek legal help to have them met. Even if the father is enthusiastic and keen to help out, you still need to think carefully about how you want to share the childcare responsibilities.
During The Pregnancy
Your body - Whether the baby's father is supporting you or not, anything that concerns your health and your body during your pregnancy is entirely up to you. So if you don't want him to come with you to appointments, ultrasound exams, or to be in the labor room with you, you are absolutely within your rights to say so. If the father wants to be involved, however, you might want to think about coming to some arrangement with him. Creating an atmosphere of cooperation and respect at this early stage may help you to continue working together as a parental team after the baby is born.
Finances - Again, whether the father is helpful or not, it's a good idea to keep records of all your pregnancy-related expenses. Keep hold of receipts for anything you buy and, if the father buys anything for you or the baby, keep a record of that too. You may never need to look at that folder again, but if you do (for example, to prove whether or not the father has been involved in the baby's upkeep) you'll be glad you kept it.
Know your Rights - Even before the baby is born, you need to research your state's laws regarding child support. This is especially important if the father has been unwilling to help you out financially during the pregnancy. He's probably not going to have a change of heart after the birth.
Make written agreements - if you do decide on anything related to custody or visitation agreements prior to the birth, it's a good idea to do this in writing and with a third party (a friend of relative of yours) present as a witness.
After The Birth
Signing the birth certificate - if the father is unwilling or fails to sign your baby's birth certificate, you should enter your own information and register the birth without him. There are advantages and disadvantages to having his name on there, depending on how you view the situation. If he does not sign, this does not affect your right to claim child support. It also means that you can get, for example, a passport for your child without asking for the father's consent. His failure to sign could also be used as proof of his uncooperativeness later on, should it be necessary. If he does sign the birth certificate, you may have to seek his permission should your child, for example, need medical treatment, or if you wish to take your child abroad.
Keep records - keeping records of your expenses for your child and any agreements that you make with the father about your child's medical care, daycare, etc, is just as important, if not more so, after the birth. If the father is helpful, this allows each of you to know what you have contributed. If he's unhelpful, it will help you to prove to the authorities that he has not been contributing financially to the child's welfare.
Aggressive Or Threatening Behavior
It is illegal for your baby's father to physically threaten you, or harm you or your baby. You must not tolerate violence or bullying of any kind. If physical threats are made, contact the police immediately. If the bullying is mental, keep records on your calendar of the dates and times of all visits and phone calls from the father, regardless of whether he was unpleasant or not. If he was threatening, note down the details as precisely as you can. And take the information to the police.
We hear a lot about unhelpful Dads in the media, but the fact is that many men make good fathers even when they are not in relationships with the mothers of their children. If you two can cooperate and function as a parenting "team" rather than a "couple", your child will benefit in the long run.