Q My eighteen-year-old daughter is pregnant. She has been dating one boy for the last couple of months and says that there are no other possibilities, and that “prom-night” was her downfall. Since prom-night, they have broken up. He is going up north for college at some Ivy League school, she will be starting at BCC in the fall, at least that was the plan.
I called the boy’s mom last night. She was shocked; she first denied the possibility and then demanded that my daughter have an abortion or put the baby up for adoption, without even speaking to her son. He will not answer my daughter’s calls. My daughter wants to keep the baby. Does the father have any rights to demand the abortion or adoption? Can he deny being the father? Will he have to pay child support? Does he have any rights to the child?
A If he continues denial of his fatherhood, a paternity suit can be filed after the child is born. Paternity can be proven, or disproven, through a DNA test. The father has no right to demand either an abortion or an adoption. If your daughter chooses to place the child for adoption, however, he has to be notified, and can demand his parental rights and probably be able to stop the adoption, and assume responsibility for the child if your daughter does not want that responsibility.
If your daughter decides to have and keep the child, she will be able to ask the court for child support and contribution to her birthing costs from the father. The child support and all other rights of the father will be determined on the same basis, under the same child support guidelines schedule as if the couple were married.
Likewise, the same statute will govern all other parenting rights, such as the father’s right to access to his child or your daughter’s right to move, with her child only upon court approval, just as if they were married.
If the father wants to have nothing to do with his child, his obligation to pay child support will be increased, by the child support guidelines statute. If he claims an inability to pay, because he is going to college, the court may impute income to him at a level supported by proof of his ability to earn and available jobs.
Even if he, ultimately, admits to being the father, and agrees to an amount of child support and visitation, a paternity suit should be filed to make certain that these rights are in place by virtue of a court’s final judgment of paternity.
Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Specialization of The Florida Bar as a specialist in family and matrimonial law, and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton. Mr. Gora may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.