Your son walks into the room and you can tell something is wrong. Something is weighing heavily on his mind. After a long pause that hangs in the room for what seems like an eternity, he says, "I need to talk." He then goes on to tell you that his girlfriend has informed him that she is pregnant. What are you going to do?
Children having children is a real problem in our country. As a parent the thought of a teenager becoming a parent is scary and a very real concern. The time to talk about sex education is over, now we have to deal with this situation.
First of all, no legal obligations actually attach until the baby is actually born. That is not a personal pro-life or pro-choice stance, that is just what the law is. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to open up the lines of communication to determine how the families are going to deal with the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Let us assume for the sake of this article that the mother has decided that she is going to keep the baby. Terminating the pregnancy or placing the child for adoption open up a plethora of other legal issues that we can discuss at a later time. Before doing anything, the putative father should make sure that he is, in fact, the father of this child. This can actually be done in utero through a process called amniocentesis. Essentially, some amniotic fluid is extracted through a needle inserted into the amniotic sac. Although it is a routine procedure, it is still considered invasive and the greatest risk is the risk of miscarriage. According to he Mayo Clinic the risk of miscarriage is between 1 in 400 to 1 in 200. The much safer alternative is to perform a DNA test once the baby is born. That test involves swabbing the mouths of each parent and the child with a cotton swap.
If little Johnny turns out to be the father, then there are other issues. He is most likely going to be required to pay child support. Since the child is under four years old, the court does not have to impute any income to the mother. The court may impute full time minimum wage to your son. Imputing income means that the court, for purposes of calculating child support, will assume that the father can earn at least that much money. That would work out to over $240 per month in child support and a requirement to pay for work/school related childcare and uninsured medical expenses. If the child is receiving Medicaid, the state will go after him for reimbursement of those benefits. Since he is still a minor, they will most likely come after you. Further, under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and the mother may seek through the court to have the paternal grandparent’s income “deemed available” for child support purposes.
In addition to these issues, comes the issues of custody and timesharing with the newborn child which would be determined on a best interest standard. Since the grandparents of the new minor parents will be involved as well, it can create an extremely complex situation. A better alternative would be to have that talk with little Johnny about the birds and the bees sooner rather than later.
Photo courtesy of TipsTimesAdmin
Labels: child support, kentucky, minor, paducah, paternity