Paternity

I am a father. There is no denying it. There is no getting away from it. It defines who I am.

I am a Daddy!

In fact, I have been a daddy longer than I have been anything else. OK, yes, I have been alive longer than I have been a daddy…I just don’t remember a “before” time!

And, YES, I have not even been married longer than I have been a daddy. (Incidentally, I have three gorgeous daughters, grown and, thankfully (forgive me girls:), out of the house.

I share my bona fides with you because of a client who called me two weeks ago. He too is a daddy. His life has taken a different course than mine. Some might question his parenting skills…but, I wont.

Let me tell you his story…

John (of course this isn’t his real name!) met a young lady, fell for her, moved in with her, and had a baby with her. Just prior to the birth of the child she thought it appropriate to finally tell him that she was still married to a guy she hadn’t seen for a while. She also indicated that she would “take care of it.”

This wouldn’t be much of a story if I didn’t mention to you that not only did she NOT take care of it but John had another child with her!

Here in Massachusetts if a child is born while the mom is still married to someone else, the husband is on the birth certificate as the father. Certainly John, my client, should have insisted that she get the divorce. Certainly John should have insisted that the issue of paternity be taken care of directly after the birth of the first child. Certainly John should have done things differently.

But he didn’t.

Now he has a problem.

John and the mother of the children have split up. She will not let him near the children…his children.

Did I mention that I am a daddy? I couldn’t even imagine someone trying to tell me that I couldn’t see or talk to my kids. But John, who made choices in hindsight that he should not have made, has no legal standing to insist he see his kids. As far as the law is concerned, they are not his children. In a very real sense, I know his pain. It is this pain that I responded to when he called.

Until John is adjudicated the father of these children he is just another guy. People don’t like to discuss paternity suits in polite society. Yet in situations such as the one I have just written about, zealous advocacy takes on a new meaning, one soaked in desperation and fueled by a fathers love.

I am a daddy… I understand John.

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