Unwed Fathers: What Dads Need to Know

Whether you’re in a serious relationship with someone or maybe had a one-night stand, finding out you’re having a child will be a game changer, especially as the father. In most states, the law says unwed mothers have legal custody over the child, but that doesn’t mean you should just take what the law says. Instead, you need to make it a point to be in your child’s life, and this requires some work on your part, especially if you and the mother aren’t going to get married. If you are an unwed father, here are some things you need to know.

 

Get a paternity test.

Even if you’re 100% sure the child is yours, it’s still necessary for the courts that you get a paternity test. This gives the courts proof that you are the child’s legal father and will help you get the rights you deserve. This is done by swabbing your mouth and having your DNA and the DNA of your child run together. Once your paternity is proven, you can take the next steps to ensure you get the rights that belong to you.

 

Fight for your custody.

Even though an unwed mother will be granted legal custody, that doesn’t mean you can’t file for joint custody of the child. Having joint custody means you and the child’s mother get to split time equally with the children. It also means you’re both financially responsible for the child and also means you both get equal say in the rights and decisions of your children, such as their medical care, where they go to school, what religion they’ll be raised in, and more.

 

Fighting for custody means finding an attorney who will help you get the custody agreement you want. You will want to talk with a legal professional to see what your rights are and what you need to do to help you achieve those rights. Once you’ve talked this over, be sure to do whatever your legal representative asks of you, such as finding the financial records you need or the paperwork you need to help prove your case and get the arrangement you want.

 

If you and the child’s mother have a good relationship, getting your version of custody shouldn’t be that difficult to do; however, if you have a strained relationship, know that she may want to fight you on the custody, and this can turn it into a battle.

 

Pay your dues.

Regardless of what the courts may decide, know that your child is your financial responsibility, and it’s up to you to help support them so they can have every opportunity that’s necessary for them. The courts may require you to pay child support, and if they do, know that you need to pay this to help your child get the resources he/she needs to grow. Also know that your child support payments are a legal agreement, and not paying them could put you at risk of serving jail time.

 

Spend time with your child.

Children need their fathers for better development, and whether you get joint custody or only have visitation, it’s important you spend as much time with your child as possible. Be there for him/her when they need you, find fun things to do with one another, and be sure to get involved with school and activates as your child gets older. Even though you and their mom may no longer be together, that doesn’t mean there needs to be a strain on your relationship with your child.

 

As a father, it’s up to you to use these tips and have a successful relationship with your child.

 

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How Do You Involve New Partners/Spouses in Your Lives?

Blending into a new family is hard after you have been through a divorce. Children often have a hard time accepting changes and learning how to deal with things as a family is the first step to involving your new partner in your life. You have to understand where children are coming from and how to handle things as a family in order to get the best results.

5 Steps to Involve Your New Partner/Spouse in Your Lives

Step 1 – Plan a Blended Family

In order to be able to have a life with your new partner, you have to learn how to incorporate your children into your lives. This process is going to be challenging but with the right attitudes, it can be done where your children will have the support they need. Plan how you are going to work together to incorporate the children in your lives.

Step 2 – Lay the Foundation for a Strong Family

Next you will have to lay the foundation for a strong family. If you rush into things with your new partner, the damages could take years to repair. The first thing that you have to remember is that you have to take time to lay the foundation so that you can have a strong family. Laying the foundation is not without some struggles though, so make sure that you are ready by looking at the following guidelines.

**Do not make too many changes at once.
**Remember that children take time to develop their feelings.
**Look at how you can experience a “real” life with your new partner first.
**Start making changes before you get married.
**Never allow yourself to be pulled between your children and your new partner.
**Make respect a priority.
**Have reasonable expectations.

Step 3 – Bond with Your New Family

When you have laid the foundation, you can begin working on the bonding. Remember first and foremost that bonding is going to take some time and that you are not going to be able to bond overnight. If you expect bonding too quickly then you are going to be filled with disappointment. As you are bonding it is important to consider the children and their feelings. You want the children to feel safe and secure, like they have a voice, loved, connected, emotionally valued, seen, understood, encouraged, and appreciated.

Step 4 – Learn The Pace of the Children

It does not matter if all of the adults are ready to move forward with things, you will have to make sure that all children involved are ready to move forward before you do. Some children are going to take a lot longer than others to warm up to someone new. Other children will be quicker to adapt. You really have to just listen to the children that you have in your life to find out what is going to work best for you.

Step 5 – Understand How Children Adjust

Adjusting to a blended family is hard for everyone. Children often have the hardest time with adjusting because of the vast variety of changes that are happening in their lives. Depending on the age of the children who are becoming a part of the new family. The age of the children and their gender can play a role in how they adjust.

**Children under the age of 10 are going to be more willing to trust but will also have more of a need for attention. They tend to adjust more easily but often are in competition for their parent’s affections and attention.
**Adolescents have the hardest time adjusting. They will really struggle with accepting the new person in their life as a disciplinarian. Plus, they typically do not share their feelings openly.
**Teenagers are more likely to withdraw completely. They like to be separate from the family as they are forming their own identities. They are not likely to be open with their affections.
**Boys prefer that affection be verbal rather than physical. They are more likely to accept a stepfather.
**Girls prefer that affection be verbal. They also are often uncomfortable with physical affection from stepfathers and take longer to accept stepfathers.

Turning your family into a successful blended family is possible. It is going to take time and effort on the part of both adults. It is also going to take understanding and care. You can have success even if there are small hiccups along the way.

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