My Ex Just Told Me She is Pregnant. What Do I Do?
Okay. Now take a deep breath. The obvious first question is whether it is yours? You will not be able to find out until the baby is born and until the DNA test is done.
If you know it is yours, congratulations! You are about to be a father and embark on a great adventure. It will be stressful, expensive, and seemingly unmanageable at times, but you got this.
Now to the legal stuff:
A court will not do anything until the baby is born, including order a paternity test. But if you believe it is your child, there are many important things you should do during the pregnancy that could affect your custody case.
First and foremost, ask to be involved. Even if she says no and won’t let you go to the doctor’s appointments or be at the birth. Ask, ask, and ask again. She now cannot argue that you were not involved.
Second, offer to pay for half of the medical costs. There is a law in Nevada that states that the father is responsible for the costs of “pregnancy and confinement” (nobody knows what confinement really means), but this statute has widely been found unconstitutional and the court generally orders these costs to be split. If you are not sure it is your child, then wait until the paternity test is done, but know that if it is yours, you could be responsible for this cost. If it is not yours, you are now not trying to fight to get your money back, so just wait and see until after the paternity test is done.
Third, be nice. She is going to be an emotional, hormonal crazy person, but she is the mother of your child. Treat her how you would treat your mother, even when she is going off on you. Playing nice can go a long way in many regards.
Fourth, do not sign an acknowledgment of paternity or put your name on the birth certificate unless you are 100% positive it is yours. An acknowledgement of paternity or listing you as the father on the birth certificate is the same as a court order deeming you the father, and there is a small time frame to change it after the fact. After that time frame has expired, it is extremely difficult to get that changed. We have seen men ordered to pay child support for a child that is proven to biologically not be their child simply because their name is on the birth certificate.
Last, file a Petition to Establish Paternity and Custody. Through the courts, we can get a DNA test ordered and, if confirmed, begin the process of establishing your custodial rights. There has been a recent change to the law and now there is a preference of joint legal and physical custody even in cases where the parties are not married, so if you are the father, you have rights! We just need to go through the Court process to confirm and define those rights.