I had a breath of fresh air walk through my door recently. The potential client told me that he believed that his ex-girl friend was pregnant with his child. He had already gone to another attorney and had spoken to several of his friends. The attorney told him that there was nothing he could do until either she decides to initiate a paternity suit against him or he initiates a legitimation action once the child was born. His friends told him to ignore her and treat her badly enough so that she would want nothing to do with him or his child support. Neither one of those suggestions were an option for him. He WANTED to be a father to his child and to participate in the exciting months leading up to the delivery.
I gave him another option. I advised him that he did not have to wait until the baby was born and wait for her to decide to file an action months or even years down the road. I told him to respect the fact that he has no rights to the baby until the court says he does and I told him to just be nice. He followed my advice. We filed the petition for legitimation when she was about 7 months pregnant. He politely asked to visit her while she was pregnant and to be at the doctor’s appointments. When he went over, he was respectful, polite, and brought gifts for the baby. While at the doctor’s appointments, he focused only on supporting her and on his excitement of soon becoming a new father.
Eventually, the mom invited him to be in the delivery room and he was absolutely thrilled. Once the baby was born, he took family leave so that he can visit and bond with his son every day, which he did. When he went over, he was respectful of the fact that she was adjusting to the challenges of being a new mother, which included arriving and leaving at the agreed upon time so as not to disrupt her attempts to set a schedule for her and the baby. Four months later, the new parents reached a final agreement, granting him parenting time that will gradually increase, eventually leading to overnight extended weekends; holidays; and summer vacations.
This is the prime example of how to handle a legitimation action. There was absolutely no stress for the parties, and more importantly, for the baby. The parties have laid the ground work for successfully co-parenting this child and I am honored to have been a part of making that happen.