Q: How do I proceed in getting parenting rights established?
My partner and I split early in the pregnancy (due in one month), things have got worse between us despite my efforts. I’ve contributed in every way I can short of handing her cash (I.e, split any bills for child care or doctors, set up my nursery, bought all big items for her nursery, bought her clothes, birthing balls, etc, bought diapers and other items for both households(her moms and my house) paid for Lamaze class that she quit, attended every doctor visit until recently denied, moved closer for convenience). She constantly tries to pick fights and make demands with no solid discussion on exactly what she expects or needs financially for her bills she expects me to pay while on maternity leave. I’m happy to provide everything for my son including child support. I always supportive and considerate no matter how verbally and emotionally abusive she gets. I’m really concerned she won’t allow me to be involved in my child’s life
A: You won't have any problem being involved in the child's life once the child is born and paternity is established. You do have to wait until the child is born however. If the mom will let your name be added to the birth certificate then your fatherhood will be legally establishes. However, women can be very hormonal during a pregnancy and sometimes suffer from extreme hormonal swings after the child birth. I would suggest that you stop worrying about your rights as a father and back off from pressuring the mother because she is in a hormonal war zone right now. Also keep track of all the money you provide the mother and everything you pay for so you can prove what you spent afterward.
Once the child is born if the mother hasn't conceded to allow you to be listed as the legal father, then you contact the district attorney in the Oregon County where you live and ask for their free services helping you establish paternity and hooking you up to pay child support until the child is age 18 (or age 21 if in school). The State will analyze your income and mother's income and use a formula to calculate how much child support you have to pay. You really don't get to argue about how you can't afford to pay the amount they come up with except for some extreme exceptions. They fix the number based on a formula and that amount will come out of your paycheck and you get to figure out how to scale down your living expenses to live on what is left over.
Now the State will help you at no cost to establish your legal paternity rights and set the child support but the State doesn't provide free legal services for helping you establish a parenting time plan. However, once you have established the first two things, paternity and child support, the parenting time part is relatively easy. At every courthouse in Oregon and on line are the forms you need to file a petition to request the establishment of custody and parenting time. Unless the mother is abusing alcohol or drugs or engaged in criminal activity or mentally ill and otherwise unable to care properly for her newborn, it is unlikely that the State will remove a newborn from the custody of the birth mother. However you absolutely have rights to be part of the baby's life.
Most courts have a family mediation program that the parents are required to participate in and a parenting class that the parents are required to take. The class and the mediation are designed to help parents in emotional conflict recognize that they have to compromise and co-parent their mutual children. That usually is enough to help the parents come up with a mutually agreeable parenting time plan. If the parents still can't agree there will be a hearing and a Judge will order a parenting time plan. There are parenting plans designed for newborns and the plans evolves as the child gets older. To see how a parenting time plan might be worded, please review this parenting time guide provided by the Oregon Department of Justice: http://www.courts.oregon.gov/programs/family/children/Pages/parenting-plan-guide.aspx
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