You saw in our previous post on establishing paternity how important it is to dot the I’s and cross the t’s. Well, in this post, we want to give you a few options on how to ensure that your child’s future is safe no matter what your current relationship is to the other parent. At Meyer & Middleton, LLC our clients come from all different situations. Sometimes you may end up in a circumstance you never thought you’d be in, but you now have to adapt quickly and plan accordingly.
A few weeks ago I was speaking with a very close friend who told me that she and her live-in boyfriend were trying to have a child. She said that he wasn’t at the point where he could afford to pay for her ring and to pay for a big wedding, but THEY were at a point where they could afford a child together. She said he didn’t want her chipping in on the ring. They had thought this out, and decided it would be best to get the baby wheels rollin’.
In the South, we’re a little less likely to plan a family this way. If the baby comes before marriage, it’s usually not planned that way. She was a little cautious in telling me this because she knew the South is a little different than her neck of the woods. As a family law attorney, I see that families are built on different foundations, and I like to see myself as an understanding and somewhat laid back person. However, my first priority is to my client (or to my dear dear friend). So, I told her simply:
- Get a Custody Agreement in Writing: It’s not good for the child or the parents to constantly bicker over the daily decisions in the child’s life. Discuss what you plan on doing for education (pre school, primary, even COLLEGE (I’d personally be very upset if my significant other allowed my child to go to Tennessee or Florida– KIDDING… Roll Tide haha!). Think about doctors and whether or not you two agree on that doctor. Discuss what may happen if you disagree on treatment of a disorder. Who gets the deciding vote? Decide when visitation should happen if you two aren’t in a relationship or if you split up. Unlike marriage, it’s easier to simply walk away after one or two disagreements. There’s no special process making you divvy up the household items. You’d have to actively take the other parent to court to fight after who gets what weekends. Wouldn’t it be better to have this decided before the baby comes along?
- Make sure the father signs the birth certificate or signs an affidavit of paternity: You can reread our blog on establishing paternity if you don’t understand the importance of this. Establishing paternity is important for inheritance, custody, and visitation reasons. If there isn’t a doubt, make sure it’s in black and white. This helps if there is court in the future, or an unexpected death(some may see this as worse than court whereas others may see it as better) …
- Get a Will and Life Insurance for the benefit of the child as soon as he or she is born: Again, see above. It is best if the child is taken care of if something happens to one of the parents or both. You need to agree with your significant other on guardianship clauses (if possible) and make sure that your child is taken care of in the event of a tragedy.
Remember, it’s easier to plan ahead than it is to fix the past. We are here to help you plan the future whether or not it involves a picket fence or a well thought out parenting plan!