An unplanned pregnancy is a shock not only for a woman but also for her partner. The news is mixed with unbelief, confusion, and fear. Are you wondering if you will be financially or legally responsible? The decision is in your partner’s hands.
What Is My Responsibility?
In Missouri, you are legally liable to financially care for a child you have fathered until the child reaches 18. If the child goes to college or a trade school, your financial responsibility can extend to 21. Your responsibility to financially support a disabled child lasts for the entire child’s life.
If you choose to challenge your paternity, the courts can require DNA testing. Penalties for not paying child support could mean jail time.
What If She Decides to Parent?
Ultimately, your partner has the final say on how to handle the unplanned pregnancy. Single parenting is challenging, but many women do it every day. Are you interested in marriage or willing to co-parent?
A father’s involvement in his child’s life is critical. Studies show the lack of a father causes many problems for a child.
Children who grow up fatherless are more likely to:
- Live in poverty
- Abuse drugs and alcohol
- Have poor physical and mental health
- Have less success in school
- Be involved in crime
- Experience teen pregnancy
In addition to being financially responsible to your child, you are physically, emotionally, and morally accountable. Like it or not, you are a father and should never walk away from fatherhood.
What If She Chooses to Make an Adoption Plan?
Placing the child for adoption could be a perfect solution if neither of you is ready to parent.
For an adoption to be legal in Missouri, the courts want both birth parents to sign the agreement. Sometimes, it is possible to complete an adoption without the father’s signature, depending on certain circumstances.
When you sign, you can either admit paternity and agree to the adoption, or you can deny paternity but still agree. However, voluntarily placing your child for adoption means you are a good, pro-active father.
You have no financial responsibilities when placing a child for adoption. All of the mother’s medical and legal costs are covered. She may also receive assistance for other pregnancy-related expenses such as food, housing, and transportation.
Adoption is emotionally difficult and requires a great deal of counseling and support. But as the birth parents, you can be involved in selecting the adoptive couple and the potential future you wish to give your child.
That future can include a two-parent family, better opportunities, and the loving care you want your child to receive. You also benefit from the opportunity to build a relationship with your child as they grow.
What Is the Bottom Line?
We understand you are in a difficult situation. Actions have consequences, and sometimes those aren’t easy. If you and your partner want to learn more about making an adoption plan, send us a message online or call 1-888-564-HOPE (4673).
Talking with us doesn’t mean you’re committing to adoption. It takes time to choose this option. In the meantime, give your partner the careful support she deserves. Keep the lines of communication open and work together to develop the best solution.
Contact us now to set your appointment.
This blog is for informational purposes only. This is not legal or medical advice. While we try our best to reflect current laws with accuracy at the time of writing, please note the laws can change over time.