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Never-married mother faces father who hasn't been around in a couple years but now wants visitation

Your Question:
I am a single mother that was never married. By the time I found out I was pregnant I had broken up with the father because he was starting to show signs of being abusive. I was raised in a home with 2 parents, and hitting was NEVER a solution, even between the kids. So as soon as it started I broke it off. I found out I was pregnant a few weeks later. I told him about the child, and he wanted to be a part of his life. I had no problems with him doing this, but after he realized I was not going to get back together with him he did not speak to me my entire pregnancy. A week after the baby was born he called me to come visit him. I agreed and we worked out a child support and visitation schedual. After about a month he started telling me he was changing the baby's name to his first and last. I did not agree to do this, and he stopped comming to see the baby. I gave him a few months to cool off, and called him to find out what he planned on doing. He told me as far as he was concerned that was not his son, and he did not want to see him. As far as child support I could take him to court. I did take him to court, and he has child support taken out of his pay check. It has been 1 year since he has seen the baby (who is a toddler now) and he is taking me to court for visitation. I NEVER told him he could not see the baby. I believe a child should have 2 parents but at what point do you say you walked away? I don't want my son to be confused by a father that walks in and out of his life when his parents don't agree. He has never spent more then 1 hour visiting the baby, and only saw him 5 times. My son has 2 uncles that adore him more then life, and a mother that would do anything to protect him. How do I deal with this, and how do I put my feelings aside? How does a child feel in this situation? I also have a boyfriend that I plan on marrying in 2 years, is it wrong to want that sort of stability for my son? Please let me know, because I would like an outsiders oppinion.

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My Answer:

If we could only redo those moments when we pick (deliberately or not) the parents of our children, eh?

You wrote a lengthy story. Your situation really isn't too complicated, compared to most custody conflicts.

Regarding visitation, xactly what you wrote to me is what you'd tell the court... you haven't restricted dad's time at all, and he's spent all of six hours total with the child since birth. You want your child to have a stable father in his life. You are very concerned that there is a lack of paternal bond, which warrants very limited visitation initially until the father demonstrates a new commitment to this child and a bond develops. There is slim to no chance of you losing the vast majority of timeshare with this child, and I think there is a good chance that the court will see things the way you do... provided you've told me the truth that you haven't restricted father's access.

Yes, it's reasonable to want stability for this child. If you create a home with a good man who is a good stepfather, that is in this child's best interest, provided the man never takes priority over your child's welfare. It's actually better for this child if your fiance is increasingly involved starting from such a young age. By the time you move in together, they'll have a great relationship.

You have no control over the father's decisions. You're naturally going to be angry and disappointed, but you just learn to accept that this is this child's father... and you picked him. Your feelings are irrelevant, so you have no choice but to set them aside or discuss them with a counselor or anyone else outside of your son's presence.

The child is not going to be traumatized by this situation unless you make him traumatized. Kids are pretty resilient. If you act normally, the child will simply live his life, knowing that this is how his world works. As the child gets older and begins to understand the situation, you may have some extra work to do to keep him emotionally healthy and help him fully realize that his father's rejection (if it continues) has no reflection on the child's value. This is where the stepfather can really help too in protecting child's self-esteem.

There may be a new explosion of fireworks when the father learns that you're getting married. I suggest you delay disclosing that information as long as possible. No parent, even a very lame one, likes the thought of being "replaced", even if that's not your intent. Don't have the child call your fiance, "Dad".

At this point, all you can do is provide a stable, nurturing home for this child. If you're doing that, then he should be okay.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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