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Reproductive Rights

Dear Amy,

Where can I get information on rights of a single mother.?I live in GA, not married to the father, expecting a baby in March, unsure of what to do about the name on the birth certificate, visitations, and child support. Please help.

Expecting Mom

   

Dear Expecting Mom,

Your rights are both few and many--mostly you need to decide what you want. Do you want this father to be a part of your baby's life? Do you think he will be able to be a father in the way that you envision and will that be enough for the child? I ask because I have seen too many forced relationships between children and their parents--and the long-term consequences are that the child is hurt and constantly let down.

On the other hand, I don't know my father. My mother suspected he was crazy, turns out he was arrested for kidnapping and falsifying his profession as a psychotherapist, so she left him two months before I was born. At that time, her choice as far as the birth certificate was concerned was to list my father's name or to list "illegitimate." She went with my father's name, but I had to go to court when I was six to get it changed. I think that I turned out okay because I wasn't set up to have a relationship that would disappoint me. People say that I'm a child of divorce, but I really feel like the child of a single mother, something entirely different.

I tell you my story, because I think that you have to be clear about why you want this father to be involved and consider whether or not you might be forcing something that will cause more harm than good. If you do think it's the best thing, establish paternity right away, otherwise, you won't have any rights or any ground to stand on. Then you can consider child support and visitation. If you are on good terms with the father perhaps you can do this together, but make sure to get it all in writing, you never know what might happen in the future. Each state has different rights, and I'm not sure what the situation in Georgia is like. Your local courthouse is likely to have a "women's division," which is supposed to provide this kind of information.

Good luck and I hope that you find a balance that is mutually beneficial to all involved.

-Amy

 

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