Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Baby’s Daddy Is in Jail”

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I recently gave birth, but I broke up with my ex, who is also the baby’s father and currently in jail, before I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t want him to be a part of his daughter’s life because of the way he treated me. Now his family has told him that I had his baby, and his sister-in-law, who’s also my friend, gave him my number without my consent and he’s been calling me ever since.

I understand we have a child together, whom I love with all my heart even though she looks just like her father, but I don’t like that he calls me every day from jail. The majority of the time I don’t pick up, but that doesn’t stop him from calling. He asked me if I could come visit him by myself and then afterwards bring our daughter, but if my daughter’s not going to see him with me, then I don’t see the point in going to see him at all because we are not together.

It’s hard being a single mother, and I love my ex, but I’m trying to move on from him. I know I can’t because I have a kid with him, and now that he knows that, he’s going to want to see the child. What should I do? — Baby Mama

You’ve made your daughter’s potential relationship with her father all about you since you discovered your were pregnant. You didn’t tell your ex you were expecting. You didn’t tell him about his daughter once he was born, and you say you don’t want him in her life. That could all be understandable if you had reason to believe his presence in her life would be detrimental to her well-being. And maybe you do (he IS in jail, after all). But you don’t mention that. All you say is that you don’t want your ex in your daughter’s life because of how he treated YOU and because YOU need to move on. What about your daughter?

You’re a mother now. It’s time to think of your child and what’s best for her. Could you ex potentially be a good father to her? If he has any interest at all in being a dad, doesn’t your daughter deserve the chance to have that? Don’t her needs trump your own? (They do.).

Your ex wants you to come visit him by yourself so that you can talk one-on-one without distraction about, oh, I don’t know, how you kept the pregnancy from him and didn’t bother to let him know he had a daughter. He probably wants a chance to appeal to you and fight for a chance to be in her life. And if you love your daughter, you’ll at least go and listen to what he has to say. You’ll put your own selfish needs aside for two hours and talk to your ex about the daughter you have together and show him some photos and share your hopes for her and find out what your ex has to say.

Frankly, if you’re friends with your ex’s family, I don’t know how you thought you’d keep your daughter a secret from him at all, let alone forever. You knew eventually you’d have to discuss the situation with him. Now is that time. Answer his phone calls, go see him, talk about the role he wants in your daughter’s life. You can’t avoid him forever, and if there’s a chance this man could be a positive role in your daughter’s life, she deserves the minimal amount of effort on your part to help make that happen.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

167 comments… add one
  • SasLinna June 25, 2013, 9:13 am

    I’d like to know more about how your ex treated you, LW. Was he abusive? Do you have reason to be afraid of him? Or are you just pissed off because, say, he cheated on you or your relationship ended badly?
    Also, why is he in jail? It makes a huge difference whether it’s for anything violent or not. If your ex is abusive or violent, then I understand wanting to stay away from him and keeping him from seeing your daughter – heck, you absolutely should stay away in that case. But if he’s not, then you don’t have sufficient reason to just keep him from your daughter entirely.

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    • Bunnycsp June 25, 2013, 9:32 am

      I thought the same thing. Sometimes men can be terrible partners but wonderful fathers. However, if she is worried about her daughter’s safety, then she should stay away. I am with Wendy. If his sister is her best friend, I can believe he was that terrible.

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      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 10:31 am

        But then you gotta go the lawyer route, and deal with custody issues and paternity. Did she put his name on the birth certificate? Is she married? If she can’t afford an attorney, I would try to contact some legal aid organizations to see if she can get a couple hour’s worth of advice so she knows what’s up.

      • Bunnycsp June 25, 2013, 10:34 am

        Your are right, there should be legal documents. By just ignoring him, that does not make the problem go away. He could come after her and the kid any time he wants to and assert his rights as a father. It is much better to be proactive.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 10:34 am

        I know some states (maybe a lot?) are enacting legislation where an unwed mother can not just “put” a man on the birth certificate. The man has to sign off on it or file a petition for paternity to get added to the BC.

      • BecBoo84 June 25, 2013, 11:32 am

        You’re definitely right: In the state of Illinois at least, if a mother isn’t wed, a blood test is required to prove paternity before the dad’s name is added.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 11:40 am

        Pennsylvania and Florida too. I actually think it’s a really good idea.

      • BreezyAM June 25, 2013, 1:09 pm

        Similarly a man cannot just exercise paternal right… he has to prove paternity (as in by going to court and asking for a blood test) unless they both agree to put him on the birth certificate in order to exercise any rights.

  • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 9:20 am

    I’m with Wendy— you don’t list any reason for your ex to ~not~ be in your daughter’s life, other than the fact that you two broke up. You need to get back to reality, & realize that having someone’s baby means that they’re going to be in YOUR life, forever, barring some extreme circumstance (which, again, you don’t mention anything other than the fact he’s in jail, & that you two broke up.)

    Go talk to him, & see what he has to say. This isn’t about

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    • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 9:21 am

      Oops, I hit enter? Anyway…

      This isn’t about YOU anymore, or your past relationship with the man whose baby you decided to have. It’s about the baby.

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      • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 9:22 am

        Also, fucking DUH he was going to find out, if you’re still “friends” with members of his family. LW, really. It seems like maybe you got wrapped up in some fantasy of being a single mother (not that that’s a common fantasy…?)

      • bethany June 25, 2013, 9:28 am

        “Fucking Duh”– Love it.

  • Miss MJ June 25, 2013, 9:32 am

    I agree that I’d also like to know about how the ex treated the GF and why he is in jail. Also, how long is he going to be in jail and has he been to jail for this offense or related or similar offenses before and is he likely to return? If he is just there for a couple of years, should she really bring a baby to jail to visit? I don’t know much about how visiting someone in jail with a child works but…is that really good for a child? Can’t the father make do on pictures and with the occassional phone calls until he gets out? And, if he is in for the long haul, shouldn’t the child have the choice about whether to visit when he/she is old enough? I don’t agree with the mother keeping the baby a secret or by appearing to make her child’s relationship with its father all about her. Obviously, the baby’s needs trump the mom’s anger and desire to move on. But at the same time, the child’s needs also trump the fathers, and I’m not sure I think that his need to see and have a relationship with his child is worth putting a small child in a prison environment, even peripherally for a visit. Not to mention, if he’s a repeat offender and likely to get out of jail only to return, what is the cost to the child of having a relationship with someone who is that unstable? Is the disruption and stress to a small child of having a father in and out of jail justified by the need of his father to have a relationship with him? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I don’t think it is an easy one. I will give the LW props for not trying to use a baby to hang on to a man and for understanding she needs to move on from this guy; he’s obviously no good for her. I also do think that, since he is the father of her baby, she should have told him about the baby, and she does owe him a visit. She should go, alone, and bring a couple of pictures with her. He deserves that much, for sure. As for access (and what kind of access) to the baby while he is in jail – that depends. If I were the LW, I’d try to find a support group somewhere – there’s got to be one online, right? – to help work out those details because that answer depends on a lot of variables that we just don’t know.

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    • Bunnycsp June 25, 2013, 10:03 am

      Right, but there are a few things you can deduce from the letter. She is worried about this guy being part of the baby’s life, so he can’t have a long term sentence. It isn’t like, my daughter will have to see him in 10-30 years. And would it really warp a baby to be in a visitation room? I don’t think so.

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      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 10:20 am

        Sure the infant might not remember the prison, but something like 50 to 80 percent of all prisoners will end up back in prison (my googling is failing me this morning). And a 3, 4, or 5 year old will definitely be affected by visiting a prison, I know I was.

      • Bunnycsp June 25, 2013, 10:35 am

        right, I think a child is different. But that is down the road. Now they are talking about her visiting once and the baby is visiting once. the relationship after that is built from there.

      • Miss MJ June 25, 2013, 10:53 am

        Like I said, I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think I would take a baby or small child to a prison. The atmosphere, tension, stressed people, etc. Jisn’t something that I think a baby needs to be around, and I don’t think the fathers desire to see his child necessarily justifies bringing that child to a prison. Should she keep him away from the kid when he gets out? No, not unless he poses a danger. Should she send regular photos and updates to him? Absolutely. Should she tell her child about its father? Of course. Open lines of communication? Yes. But bringing a baby or small child to jail just because his father wants to see him? I just don’t see that as being good for a child, and that matters to me more than what either of the parents want.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 11:00 am

        I completely agree.

  • mmcg June 25, 2013, 9:36 am

    LW. Your daughter has a dad whether its ideal for you or not. And if the situation between you and he wasnt violent, depending on the circumstances of his incarceration, he has every right to be in her life but more importantly she has every right to know about her father. It doesnt appear like you gave that issue much thought… your daughter is going to ask one day, sooner than you probably realize, and you are being really selfish right now.

    Also, and I know ive seen this comment on other DW letters like this — the father has a responsibility to support his child. You dont mention anything about finances or your living situation, unless there was violence or abuse you shouldnt take potential resources, family support, etc away from your child that SHE may need in the future.

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  • bethany June 25, 2013, 9:38 am

    I think the LW left out too many details to really get a good answer. Why is he in jail? You said he treated you badly- What did he do?
    There’s such a huge range of possible answers to these questions that I don’t think any of us can really tell you what to do.

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  • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 9:44 am

    So my biological father was in jail when I was a child. I guess my whole situation was semi-similar to yours except my mother didn’t hide the pregnancy. So here’s my two cents…

    You’re being selfish. Unless this guy was abusive, violent, or would be doing drugs in front of the child- don’t deny them the relationship. YOU don’t have to have a relationship with him, but your daughter deserves a chance to have one. I DO encourage you to proceed with caution until he has proven to you and your daughter that he is responsible enough to care for her.

    There are a lot of different opinions on this part, but I’ll tell you what my mom did. My mother opted NOT to go through the courts, etc and draft up child support and custody agreements. She took on the role of providing for me 110% and sometimes that meant she worked 3 jobs and we lived in a basement apartment. Eventually things got better. Since we had no formal custody agreement- my mom simply kept my biological father updated of our address/phone number and when he called, with reasonable notice, I saw him. When he didn’t call, I didn’t see him. Our relationship wasn’t forced by mandatory Tuesday visits. It “grew” organically, which today means we don’t have a relationship. We haven’t for 20 years. Mostly by his choice (got messed up in drugs, started moving around, stopped calling) and partially by my choice (I stopped giving him the time of day). I think this allowed me to form my own opinion of the man who provided half of my genetic make up, and let him show his true colors.

    Also, don’t EVER talk bad about him in front of your daughter. EVER. (Sorry this is rambling, I don’t feel great today.)

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    • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 9:46 am

      My earliest memory is visiting my father in jail. I was about 5. When I was around 24 I finally found out why he was in jail- involuntary manslaughter. He was drunk and drag racing, and killed a man. It’s pretty sucky my earliest memory is of a prison.

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    • honeybeenicki June 25, 2013, 11:20 am

      I second everything GG said. Everything. Especially the part about not badmouthing him in front of your daughter. Not cool.

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    • Bunnycsp June 25, 2013, 11:55 am

      This was really great and really brave of you to post.

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      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 12:10 pm

        I don’t think it’s brave. I didn’t do anything. My biological father is a screw up, it’s just the DNA I’m stuck with. No sense in hiding it.

  • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 10:23 am

    Obviously, if your ex was abusive, then stay away. But a child can’t rationalize that her mother had a shitty boyfriend and therefore she doesn’t get a father. To her, it’s likely going to initially be that she assumes her father doesn’t love her, and then later on when she understands, she’ll just think her mother is selfish and mean. Having a father who is in jail or otherwise a loser sucks, but having a void there is likely going to be even worse.

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    • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 10:31 am

      I don’t know…I don’t think your giving this kid enough credit. If the mother is honest about why the father isn’t involved (he was in jail for XYZ, I felt it was in your best interest to not have a relationship with him for XYZ reasons)…I mean even a younger child can understand that. They even have a Sesame Street character who has a dad in jail now!

      And on the flip side- having a loser dad can really screw up a kid. My husband’s father has been in and out of jail, has substance abuse issues, and is abusive (not to the kids, to his female partners). My husband had court mandated visitation etc until he was 18, and he still struggles with the things he saw his father do as a child and his intense fear he will some how end up like his dad. So, a void would have been WAY better.

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      • applescruffs June 25, 2013, 10:38 am

        I agree with you, Gator Girl. There are a lot worse things than having an absent father (or mother).

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 10:50 am

        I agree. When I say void, I’m not simply referring to an “absent” father, though.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 10:44 am

        I don’t think it’s that I’m not giving the kid enough credit. I mean, plenty of kids do literally think their parents are divorcing because of something they did. It’s great that your mother explained it to you well and you understood, but I had friends with absent fathers who assumed that their fathers just didn’t want to be their dads until they got old enough to understand.

        I don’t think the LW should force a relationship if the father does in fact turn out to be a loser (as in, in and out of jail, etc.), but I think she should be open to it and assess the situation before making a snap decision.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 10:54 am

        Your second post is way more clear. As I explained above- I think it’s incredibly important that the mother be honest about the situation (no sugar coating or demonizing the dad) and that she should “proceed with caution” but allow a relationship to organically grow.

        It’s pretty sad you know people who felt that way, that their dad’s didn’t want them. Although it is most likely true, and it’s actually been really freeing to me to be able to recognize that. But I do know it’s not as easy for everyone to do.

      • findingtheearth June 25, 2013, 10:50 am

        I have a cousin whose mother took him and his brother away from my uncle in the middle of the night, lied about molestation, and basically forced my Uncle’s hand to sign away his rights after 5 years of legal battles.

        My cousin and I became reacquainted when he was 18 and decided to look into this side of the family. He reconnected with his father. One night, he called me asking how his dad could just turn him and his brother away, and why he would be so selfish. I had to explain to him what his mother did, the huge legal battle he never saw or heard about, and how much debt his father went into to try and get some form of legal rights. My cousin was appalled and him and his mother had a pretty huge conversation about it.

        There is often more than what meets the eye in a lot of cases and it is very common that children are just taken away from their fathers with little cause. This is changing, and the Court systems are changing, but it’s been a long time coming.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 10:59 am

        I actually have an aunt (used to be aunt? I don’t know what to call her) who is trying to do the same thing. She is fabricating stories of abuse and neglect to gain full custody and big child support payments from my uncle. It’s really shitty. Sadly the courts are believing her and right now he only has supervised visitation- even though she leaves the 5 and 3 year old home alone with a 13 year old over night regularly (among other big issues).

  • landygirl June 25, 2013, 11:20 am

    Facepalm Friday on a Tuesday.

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  • TECH June 25, 2013, 11:20 am

    A man deserves to know you are pregnant with his child. Even if he is not a good man.

    It seems pretty obvious that you believe this man would be harmful to your child. You have your reasons, and I’m not questioning them. This man obviously put you through a lot of hurt and heartbreak. You are under no obligation to visit him in prison.

    However, when he does get out of jail, it is worth exploring what (if any) role this man could have in your child’s life. This might mean supervised visitation. It might mean him paying child support. It might mean your daughter spending holidays with him and his family. This is something that can be worked out when he gets out of prison. I don’t see how visiting him behind bars right now will help you or your daughter. He knows he has a daughter. That should be enough for now. There’s nothing productive or helpful he can do while he’s in prison.

    I just disagree with people who say the LW is selfish. People in our country are usually not put in jail long term for frivilous reasons. This man is a criminal. Yes, he deserves to know he has a child. But the LW is under no obligation to let her daughter be around this man if she believes he is harmful.

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    • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 11:59 am

      First of all, “jail” and “prison” are not interchangeable phrases. I understand people use them that way, but I need to be clear: jail is used for minor offenses where some time in custody is appropriate. Prison is given when people require lengthy custody periods for serious crimes. Jails are run by the county and are often low-security; prisons are the ones with barbed wires and electrified fences and gangs inside.

      Second, people are put in jail all the time for frivolous reasons. People are put in jail for driving without licenses (Operating After Revocation), for having small baggies of pot (Possession of a Controlled Substance), for being overly loud (Disorderly Conduct), and — in one of my cases last week — for punching a guy at a bar who grabbed my client’s girlfriend’s ass and made a comment about he’d like to “tap that” (Battery). To suggest that someone in jail is instantly terrible and to be feared or be concerned about is ridiculous. Sure, none of those things are great, but none of those things are somehow worthy of supervised visits and cautious moves by the Court.

      Third, there’s not nearly enough evidence to justify her paranoia about her child. The way I read that letter, they broke up and she “wants to move on with [her] life” and “didn’t want him to be a part of his daughter’s life because of the way he treated [her].” THAT is why she is selfish and immature; she certainly sounds like she’s doing this because she doesn’t like the guy.

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      • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Yes to your second paragraph.

      • TECH June 25, 2013, 12:11 pm

        Fine. Jail and Prison are not interchangeable terms. I’m not an expert. But it seems pretty clear he is in prison and that he’s been there for at least several months.

        And given that the LW did not disclose his crime, it makes it difficult judge. But if his crime was “frivolous” such a driving without a license, or getting arrested for a small amount of pot, she probably would have mentioned that he was there for a minor reason. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt that he’s there for a serious reason. I’d venture a guess that if you’re prison for several months, it’s for a serious reason. Where I live, people get let out of jail after just a few months for serious crimes like larceny, breaking and entering, or drug possession.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 12:25 pm

        Maybe, but she seems pretty dead-set on not interacting with him, so I doubt she’d be giving any ammo to the argument that he deserves to see his daughter, like telling us his offense was minor.

      • Amber June 25, 2013, 12:33 pm

        yes exactly.

        I also think if he was abusive, or she feared for her child’s safety, she would say that, rather than “how he treated me”. How he “treated” her could mean anything from forgetting birthdays, cancelling dates, being a rude person…it’s quite a leap to read into her letter that he was abusive or she has a reason to fear for her or her child’s safety.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:00 pm

        “But it seems pretty clear he is in prison and that he’s been there for at least several months.”

        How on earth is that clear? If he was in prison, he wouldn’t be able to call every day. If he were in prison, he’d likely be too far away to visit. I’m not sure you get the difference between jail and prison. Jail is generally for sentences up to a year, and prison is for a year or more. So if he had, say, a 6 month sentence he would still be in a jail.

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 4:35 pm

        He could totally call everyday if he was in GP, even in (some) max. security prisons.Plus, she probably doesn’t mean it literally like every single day of the week. Calling 5 x a week would still qualify as “everyday” for her purposes and allow for the fact that he could be in a maximum security prison.

      • BecBoo84 June 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Slightly off subject, but driving without a license isn’t frivolous!!! If someone has routinely exhibited poor driving skills (excessive speed, driving while intoxicated, etc.), and they are unwilling to actually abstain from driving once their license has been suspended or revoked, jail is perhaps appropriate. I know way too many people who’ve been in serious car accidents to consider that frivolous. I would agree that it’s obviously not a justifiable reason for keeping a child away from his or her parent, but it’s not completely trivial either.

      • rachel June 25, 2013, 3:39 pm

        Eh, sometimes it is pretty trivial. A friend in college lost his license for a few months because he ran a red light and then forgot to pay the fine. He wasn’t exactly a menace on the road for that one mistake.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 3:46 pm

        I can hardly believe that’s the entire story. Clean driving record, ran one red light, and forgetting to pay a fine do not equal a revocation of a license. There has to be more to the story.

      • mmcg June 25, 2013, 3:54 pm

        Depends on the state. I lost my license for 90days for underage drinking, when my offense wasnt in a moving vehicle at all and I was never arrested or booked or charged. Just written up and told to pay a fine, pay to take a class. .. and then of course pay again to get my license unsuspended. Nice money maker that had nothing to do with my “criminal behavior”

      • BecBoo84 June 25, 2013, 4:01 pm

        Just to point out though: You we’re driving while your license was suspended, which is what I was referencing above.

      • MMcG June 25, 2013, 8:03 pm

        I didnt even have my drivers license yet. It was suspended for a non related offense before I even got it. my point being that taking your license away as punishment can happen for a range of reasons.

      • BecBoo84 June 26, 2013, 11:10 am

        My typing was atrocious yesterday. Here’s to it being better. I meant you WEREN’T driving with a suspended license. Sorry!

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 4:09 pm

        Honestly, it seems logical to me to suspend a license for an underage drinking offense. Also, I just googled it, but if it’s clearly stated the offense of underage drinking results in the revocation of the license…that’s totally different than running a red light where the clearly stated result is a ticket/fine.

      • honeybeenicki June 25, 2013, 4:16 pm

        In our state, even one ticket where you don’t pay the fine will results in a suspension of your driving privileges. So if I got a $10 seatbelt ticket and didn’t pay the fine, they could suspend my driving privileges for up to 2 years.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 4:23 pm

        Well that is nuts.

      • rachel June 25, 2013, 4:29 pm

        Um, thanks for the warning, haha.

      • rachel June 25, 2013, 3:54 pm

        Okay, well maybe it was a court date then. I just googled and you can have your license suspended in PA for failing to attend a scheduled hearing. He was neglectful sure, and made a stupid mistake, but I don’t think he was a dangerous driver or what one would normally think of as a dangerous criminal.

        FTR, he didn’t drive while his license was suspended, it was just an example I threw out there.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 4:15 pm

        I understand your point. To be clear, I was using the term “frivolous” because Tech used it; I was mirroring that comment, and I’m not saying that any crime is a good thing. However, when viewed in the greater scheme of the possible crimes one can commit, operating a vehicle with no license is fairly low on the range of importance. Where I’m at, Operating After Revocation charges are viewed as less serious than Batteries and Disorderly Conducts, and even less serious than a Possession of Marijuana charge. Many are amended to tickets if a person can quickly get their license back during the case, and those that aren’t are generally fined.

        But keep in mind that “Operating After Revocation” is, in many states, a general phrase covering all types of driving without licenses, including those who are immigrants without valid citizenship who are unable to apply for licenses. Where I am, if you get a parking ticket and for whatever reason contest it, your license information is checked, and if you never had one in the first place the DoT sends a letter revoking your “license” until such time as you complete the requirements for getting a license (insurance, road test and written test, etc.) . . . which can’t be completed by people without a valid state ID. So, then, if they’re pulled over again, it’s an OAR because they were given notice that their “license” was revoked. So while I can agree that drunk drivers shouldn’t be driving without licenses, surely we can differentiate that from the people who WANT to get a license but are told no by the DoT?

  • findingtheearth June 25, 2013, 10:45 am

    Why is he in jail? How long is he in jail? You realize, he has a legal right to pursue visitation once he is out of jail? His family can also pursue visitation, on behalf of him while he is in jail and for their own benefit.

    I think you need to discuss this with him and his family. See what options are available. Your daughter has a right to know that side of her family, even if you and him aren’t together.

    Also, as a side note, a court may not rule against him having some visitation and custody once he is out of jail, unless he was absolutely horrible and your daughter would not benefit from him being in her life. Even if he was violent towards you, that does not mean he will be a horrible father, and jail might change his behavior. You will probably need to lawyer up at some point just to discuss your options and be prepared for all avenues that could be explored.

    As a single mom, I understand the stress of raising your child on your own. However, it’s not about your convenience or what was done to YOU. It is about your child and what is in her best interest. That is how the Court will see it. Also, judges frown upon women who don’t allow some sort of relationship between father and child, especially if the father is seeking one.

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  • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 11:47 am

    Oh, so many comments here in addition to what other people have said:

    1.) You are selfish and immature for pulling this crap. You don’t want him in your child’s life? Guess what: he IS in her life. He IS the biological father, unless you’re claiming you’re not sure if he is (which it doesn’t seem like you are.) You are like many women I’ve seen in my time in criminal and family court who think they can use their child as a bargaining chip — and don’t think that because you didn’t outright say it that it’s not obvious from your letter that you would use your daughter as a tool to demand things from him — and, frankly, it sickens me.

    2.) I’m sorry, but every once in a while we get ridiculous questions here, and this is one of them. The fact that you even had to ask “What should I do about the father of my child wanting to see his daughter?” shows me you have A LOT of growing up to do. What should you do? You should be damn grateful that you don’t have to shoulder this burden alone. You should be happy that your daughter has a father who endeavors to be in his child’s life, a trait that I wish more fathers bothered to have. Suggesting that it’s somehow “easier” to be a single mother is ludicrous; even if he’s not around much, any help is better than none, even if it’s no more than “Here’s what you shouldn’t do.”

    3.) Have you bothered to stop and think that maybe his having a daughter now will make him grow the hell up and stop committing crimes? Speaking as someone who represents guys like your ex, I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve handled where THAT is the reason the guy turns his life around. There’s a big difference between being a guy who only has to care about himself to being a father, a role model, a man responsible for the care of another. So if you want him to be a better dad, show him that he has someone to be a better dad FOR.

    4.) People have told you to go to a legal aid clinic to seek advice, so let me save you the trip: assuming you are a resident of the United States — because I can’t speak for international law — if you try to prevent him from seeing his child, you’ll be in a world of hurt. First of all, you’ll obviously get primary placement; setting aside his jail sentence, when everything else is equal courts prefer young children to be with their mother (a bit antiquated, in my opinion, but it makes sense.) Unless his crime is violent in nature, he’ll likely get unsupervised visitation, and even if it is violent supervision won’t last for long. He’ll have to pay child support, but that’ll likely be a small price to pay for being in his daughter’s life. He will share all major decision making related to the child with you (i.e., joint custody). When he gets out of jail, he’ll likely file for a formal decision as to visitation. Once that is decided, if you try to withhold visitation for whatever reason, he can and will bring you in to court, where you will face contempt charges and may even be placed in jail if the judge decides your actions are malicious and deliberate enough. You could also get child support yanked away from you, forcing you to repay him money (since, if he doesn’t get to see the kid, you don’t necessarily get child support). Oh, and if it’s deliberate enough, you could be ordered to pay his attorney’s fees for them having to bring the motion in the first place. So, overall, a pretty bad idea.

    Seriously, you need to let him see his kid when he gets out. Most jails probably won’t let his kid be there during visiting hours anyway, but if his does, you need to bring your daughter to see him. If you don’t like it, too bad. You shouldn’t have had sex with him. But you did, and you have a child together, and this is what comes with that. You don’t have to like him, and you don’t have to associate with him, but until your child turns 18 you need to co-parent with him. And any suggestion to the contrary by your family or friends or anyone else is likely to put you in hot water with the court system.

    Reply Link
    • theattack June 25, 2013, 11:58 am

      “Suggesting that it’s somehow “easier” to be a single mother is ludicrous; even if he’s not around much, any help is better than none, even if it’s no more than ‘Here’s what you shouldn’t do.'”

      I’m sorry, but this is just not true when the father is in jail or in many other circumstances. He has to do next to nothing and contributes next to nothing, but she has to carry the child around to see a criminal regularly (and shoulder the costs of doing so) or she’ll be in contempt of the courts. It’s a hell of a lot easier to not have to deal with that.

      “Have you bothered to stop and think that maybe his having a daughter now will make him grow the hell up and stop committing crimes?”

      That’s very optimistic of you. The flip side of that is that if he doesn’t clean his act up, her daughter will soon have unsupervised visitation with someone who’s likely unpredictable, untrustworthy, and possibly has no respect for the law. Sure, there’s a chance that this daughter will flip a light switch in him, and he will magically turn into a stand up man and a positive role model, but what if it doesn’t?

      Reply Link
      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 12:09 pm

        “He has to do next to nothing and contributes next to nothing, but she has to carry the child around to see a criminal regularly (and shoulder the costs of doing so) or she’ll be in contempt of the courts.”

        Yup. It’s called co-parenting. I get the whole “no one knows whether or not they’ll get pregnant”, but she did, and that’s the consequence of having her daughter. He has every legal right to be involved in his child’s life whether she likes it or not, and life isn’t fair. And, yes, she’ll be in contempt of court if she decides “to hell with the legal system”; it’s a CRIME to interfere with the custody or placement of a parent, so she would be every bit the criminal that he is.

        (Also, and this is just me talking, but labeling someone “a criminal” in the manner you’re implying based on, as far as we know, one crime is a bit silly. People are human, and they make mistakes. It’s like saying that if you have one night where you have too much to drink you should be considered a “drunk” for the rest of your life.)

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:18 pm

        “it’s a CRIME to interfere with the custody or placement of a parent, so she would be every bit the criminal that he is.”

        Not a crime in my state. My point is though that it’s hardly co-parenting when she’s the only one who’s doing anything for the child. Visitation while he’s in jail is just doing him a favor at the expense of her child’s welfare, and if that’s what we’re all concerned about, she needs to do what she can to keep that from happening.

        And yeah, if someone is convicted of a crime, they’re a criminal. Maybe they can socially reform later on and not be considered that anymore, but if you’re sitting in jail with a rightful conviction, you’re a criminal. It only takes one time to be a criminal. When someone says a person is a “drunk” that implies an extended pattern of behavior.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:02 pm

        “Not a crime in my state.”

        I call BS. I have never seen a single state where custodial interference is not a crime. Please inform me of how you are certain it’s not in fact a crime in your state. Are you suggesting that because you don’t know of anyone who was convicted of the crime it’s not a crime?

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:04 pm

        No, I’m suggesting that I just looked it up and double checked with my husband. I wouldn’t just make a guess about it.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:14 pm

        You and your husband are wrong:

        The only state that doesn’t explicitly make it a crime to ignore a court order related to custody or placement is Delaware, and even there it’s a Class A misdemeanor to interfere with custody (i.e., it doesn’t SAY court orders must be followed, but the intent is implied.)

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:17 pm

        No. All of our laws in that statute regard parents who already have custody. It doesn’t say anything about keeping a parent from getting custody.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:18 pm

        I’m not saying there’s no Custodial Interference statue. That would be absurd. I’m saying that it doesn’t criminalize keeping your baby a secret from its biological father.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:21 pm

        *statute. geez.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:25 pm

        Yes, but I thought it was clear that when somebody is found to BE a biological parent you can’t interfere with his or her right to see his or her child. That’s what the statute is about. I wasn’t suggesting that hiding the baby from her father would be criminal, though I would note that if whatever family court judge got a hold of this case found out she tried to do that she would very likely be found in contempt of court and could be fined or jailed. Different states label “contempt of court” a crime or not, so I’m not saying that is in and of itself a crime.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:29 pm

        Well we were obviously not talking about the same thing then. I never argued that she could keep the baby from him if he’s found to be the father or if he is legally allowed visitations. That’s ridiculous, and it’s something I lecture clients about at least twice a day. If you intentionally keep a baby secret in Tennessee it just makes you look bad for the custody case later on. There’s no contempt of court because there’s not a court order, and there’s no law against it.

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but if the dad isn’t on the birth certificate and the parties are not married, then paternity needs to be affirmatively established by him. If he doesn’t do that by a certain time (some statute of limitations), he doesn’t get paternal rights to the kid, I believe, unless she wants to assert them against him to get child support. So he is the one who has to establish them, I think. She can take proactive action of course, (hence my suggestion she talk to a lawyer who isn’t just kind of remembering these things from studying for the bar), but paternity isn’t just magically established without action on his part, I think.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 12:27 pm

        What…you’re a criminal if you have been convicted of a crime. I mean end of story. Sure, it might have been a mistake- but it happened and you did it, so you live with the label.

        Also, you’re whole “co-parenting” argument is…off for lack of better words. Having TWO people isn’t automatically easier. It’s often harder- having to balance opinions, butting heads, time management, different styles of parenting…the list goes on and on. Any help isn’t always better than no help- especially when the help may be of questionable character. (See my husbands affects of having his father in his life…it was “deemed” dad could have visitation but that forced my husband to witness physical and mental abuse. Super helpful.)

      • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 12:49 pm

        “…it happened and you did it, so you live with the label.” Ohh god, this is such a separate issue that I don’t want to even fully get into it, but actually, slapping the permanent label of “criminal” on a person for a relatively minor, one or two time mistake, is detrimental as fuck. I’m not an expert (& I’m not inclined outline all the sociology behind my opinion at the moment), but I think that’s what GuyFriday was getting at the end of his above post.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 12:56 pm

        Fabelle- I don’t think like for job purposes etc one should be labeled as a criminal for a minor offense. But definition of the word wise, if you’ve committed and been convicted of a crime- you are a criminal. I don’t think like a small time pot bust should have their life affected for ever (having to write it down on job applications etc) but the fact that the crime was committed never goes away. That’s not making a ton of sense.

      • Something More June 25, 2013, 4:11 pm

        But that’s exactly what you said:

        What…you’re a criminal if you have been convicted of a crime. I mean end of story.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 4:19 pm

        I don’t understand your point. Just because you fulfill a definition doesn’t mean it should be used as a quantifier for your life, especially regarding employment. I didn’t say anywhere in my original post that fulfilling the definition of “criminal” was to mean, well basically anything other than you met the requirements of that word. If you’ve committed a crime- you are in fact a criminal. I was specifically replying to Guy Friday stating “labeling someone “a criminal” in the manner you’re implying based on, as far as we know, one crime is a bit silly” because I believe that is wrong. BUT that does not mean I believe it should follow you around forever and dictate you life…

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 4:43 pm

        I thought of a relatable example. I fit the definition of a person with a mental illness. Does that mean my life should be quantified by it? No. But it does not change the fact that I fill the definition.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:05 pm

        Yes, but the post you were replying to references my saying that co-parenting is required when two people have a kid together. Not to put too fine a point on it, but she had sex with this guy, got pregnant, chose not to exercise her right to terminate the pregnancy for whatever reason, and now has a child by him. Any family court in the country is going to tell the LW that she needs to work with him to raise their child whether she likes it or not.

        Again, she doesn’t have to like him, but he has a legal right to be involved in his child’s life, and she can’t ignore it just because she doesn’t like him. Or, rather, she can, but she risks (a) being held in contempt and fined/jailed, (b) having a criminal conviction on her record (if it gets that far), and/or (c) losing her child (if it REALLY gets that far.)

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 1:18 pm

        I was actually just putting all my thoughts into one comment. My comments regarding the “ease” of co-parenting where directed towards your original post where you state “Suggesting that it’s somehow “easier” to be a single mother is ludicrous; even if he’s not around much, any help is better than none” because I absolutely think you’re statement is ludicrous.

        I’m not advocating for her to break a court order. I didn’t say that anywhere. I’m well aware of what happens when you break a court order. I didn’t say she should ignore his desire to be a part of the child’s life either…but even people who say they WANT to be part of a child’s life don’t a- always have the child’s best interest in mind, b- don’t always know what is appropriate for a child and c- just because a court order’s it doesn’t somehow validate the guys intentions.

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:31 pm

        I’ll concede that co-parenting is by no means easy (and that I could have phrased my initial post about it better) but it’s necessary. I do stand by my point that being a single mother is not easier IN THIS SITUATION, but I mean that in the sense that this guy doesn’t sound like he’s going away anytime soon, and if she keeps balking he’s going to drag her through a lot of costly litigation and judges yelling at her. Yes, if he starts to do something dangerous, bring it to the court’s attention. But that’s his FUTURE actions; his PAST actions are unlikely to do much in the way of altering visitation. If I had to bet money on it, I’d suggest that the judge will order weekend visitation from Friday PM – Sunday PM either every weekend or every other weekend, with the usual “Father’s Day with him, Mother’s Day with her, split Christmas and Thanksgiving” stuff.

      • Lynn June 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

        Umm… GG, I’ve been convicted of something before, and I definitely don’t consider myself a “criminal”… I don’t think it’s fair to slap that label on people who made one mistake… especially misdemeanor offenses (like driving w/ suspended license, reckless driving, first time dwi offender <– first time being key word).

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 2:31 pm

        Like I said, I don’t think the label should be like widely thrown around…but you do fulfill the definition of a criminal. Per Merriam Webster a criminal is “guilty of crime”, which unfortunately being convicted of a crime, you would fall under that definition. I’m definitely not advocating for a big label or like the rest of a person who’s made a mistake life to be put on hold or something…just that in the simplest terms of the definition a criminal is someone who is guilty of committing a crime.

      • bethany June 25, 2013, 3:34 pm

        Just because you haven’t been convicted doesn’t mean that you’re not guilty. Thus, MOST of us are technically criminals.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 3:49 pm

        You are correct.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:32 pm

        No offense, but of course you don’t consider yourself a criminal. Not many people would. It doesn’t change the fact that you have a criminal record though.

        I personally think that after a certain amount of time has passed you should be able to socially and legally absolve yourself of some small things, but if you were convicted of a crime, you are by definition a criminal. It’s not really a label. It’s just a word. If you buy a house, you’re a homeowner. If you’re convicted of a crime, you’re a criminal.

      • lynn June 25, 2013, 2:49 pm

        Yeah, I mean both of y’all are right… but it’s just such an icky word.

      • bagge72 June 25, 2013, 3:19 pm

        I think 100% of people on this website are considered a criminal by definition, just because you were actually caught doesn’t mean the rest of the people didn’t do something illegal.

      • Addie Pray June 25, 2013, 3:22 pm

        your mom is a criminal.

      • bagge72 June 25, 2013, 3:37 pm

        Without a doubt, she is pretty hardcore. Don’t make me send her after you, she might make you delicious dinners, tuck you into bed, read you a story, and kiss you on your forehead. Oh wait she smoked weed once in the 70’s so she just might shank you after that kiss though.

      • BreezyAM June 25, 2013, 1:21 pm

        Hell I know women who bred with random regular assholes, not criminals, and have to deal with all kinds of ridiculous controlling assholery for a measly $160 a month in child support for TWO kids. Two kids he constantly misses visitation for, two kids who have nowhere to sleep in the “new” home with the “new” family. Believe me, there are times it is way easier to not have him around. I know several women who deeply regret having his name on the birth certificate and others who don’t even bother asking for CS because it’s just easier without him around.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:22 pm

        For real!

      • SpyGlassez June 27, 2013, 12:43 am

        Then you know women who should shut their legs or use some fucking birth control.

    • TECH June 25, 2013, 11:59 am

      But aren’t there certain crimes where a court would side with the mother here? What if he was convicted for a sex crime? Or a violent crime? What if he’s actively using heroin and steals to support his drug habit? Could she be blamed for not wanting her daughter around a person like that?

      Some people come out of jail and rehabilitate and become productive members of society. Some people don’t. Some continue to be criminals.

      I’m not questioning your expertise. But if she has legimitate reasons for protecting her daughter, shouldn’t those be considered as well?

      Reply Link
      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:05 pm

        That’s where supervised visitation comes in.

      • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 12:07 pm

        Wouldn’t she have ~said~ if he was put away for something like that, though? And to your other post, people *are* put in jail for “frivolous” reasons quite often in this country (although I guess it depends on what you define as “frivolous” which, okay)

        I do get your overall point, & am not trying to start shit—it’s just that, for this particular LW, I think we’re all getting the strong impression that she’s more burned by the breakup, than actively considering whether or not this man can be a good father? No one is saying she should go back & forth to prison with her baby every week, but the starting point she’s at right now is Keeping The Man’s Child A Secret From Him. And that’s shitty.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Unfortunately keeping the baby a secret is frequently the strongest wall of protection to keep you from having to take your baby to jail every week.

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 12:37 pm

        Or maybe… I dunno… REALLY going out on a limb here, I know…. Maybe pick a better father?

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:40 pm

        Damn, I never would have thought of that……..

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 12:48 pm

        Few do on here, it seems. LW (un)wise.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:49 pm

        I was obviously being extremely sarcastic. The damage is done already. All she can do at this point is figure out how to work with the situation at hand. Giving retroactive comments about what she should have done isn’t advice.

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 1:10 pm

        As was I…..

      • Miss MJ June 25, 2013, 12:50 pm

        Too late now. Although if you take the LW’s letter at face value, she probably wishes she had.

        Would the court really order visitation if a parent was in jail?

      • Guy Friday June 25, 2013, 1:08 pm

        They could. I don’t know that it would be “visitation” in the traditional definition people are used to, but family courts tend to prefer ANY contact to NO contact if the parent wants an active role in the child’s life, even if it’s just by phone or letter. The only times I’ve seen visitation taken away entirely is when a parent either completely fails to use their visitation or if they try to attack the child. I mean, realistically, I’ve seen people with armed robberies and batteries and even — and I swear I’m not making this up — statutory rapes on their record that are allowed contact with their kids.

      • BecBoo84 June 25, 2013, 3:47 pm

        And of course, the dad’s going to way to plan an “active” role in the child’s life while he’s in jail because he’s bored and wants something to pass the time. Besides, a cute little baby’s a fun visitor, especially when you’re not having to get up during the middle of the night, buy diapers, etc.

      • BecBoo84 June 25, 2013, 4:03 pm

        *want to play an “active role”…

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 1:12 pm

        The judges in my jurisdiction do it frequently.

      • findingtheearth June 25, 2013, 12:56 pm

        My employer had a case where the mother was ordered to mail letters and pictures and allow for the father to send letters to his children. His parents were also given visitation and were allowed to take pictures of the children and mail them to the father. It wasn’t visitation, per se, but allowed for some level of communication between the father and the children while the father was incarcerated.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 1:23 pm

        That’s definitely very useful advice now.

      • BreezyAM June 25, 2013, 1:25 pm

        Honestly these are the men for whom abortion needs to be kept safe and legal. Not worth having the drama. Yes, yes, adoption. In many states now you need dad’s consent, or they can come fuck it up later.

      • mmcg June 25, 2013, 12:48 pm

        Birth control and a condom would have been the strongest wall…

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:50 pm

        Jesus. Obviously the damage is already done, and what I said applies to after the fact.

      • Fabelle June 25, 2013, 12:50 pm

        Can I just say, your uncapitalized name is throwing me off so much! haha

      • mmcg June 25, 2013, 3:58 pm

        Its like im undercover;)

      • BreezyAM June 25, 2013, 1:24 pm

        then why the fuck is she hanging with the ILs? This is not how you keep a secret.

  • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Yay!! Yet another Mother Of The Year candidate. It’s LWs like this that represent our great hope for the future. Oh, happy day…

    Reply Link
    • theattack June 25, 2013, 12:32 pm

      I was expecting you would say that there’s no way a baby should be taken to the jail.

      Reply Link
  • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Eh, my honest advice here? Forget the father. Hell, I don’t even think the MOTHER should be involved in this child’s life….

    Reply Link
    • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 12:43 pm

      Why shouldn’t the mother?

      Reply Link
      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 12:46 pm

        Because she’s lying, self absorbed, selfish — and careless. Yeah. The kid is sure to turn out just great.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 12:53 pm

        Well she is lying and being selfish to try and protect her child – in her eyes.

        And careless, I’m guessing you’re referring to her accidental pregnancy. I mean shit happens- condoms break, pills can be ineffective, etc etc. Kids can turn out just fine in this situation.

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 1:00 pm

        That’s the exception… NOT the rule. For starters, this poor kid has great role models…

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 1:04 pm

        And yes — condoms always break with straight people… Perhaps latex is simply heterophobic and thus simply goes to pieces when thrust into vaginal intercourse…

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 1:20 pm

        I wasn’t trying to argue that it was some miraculous conception- I personally think it’s incredibly irresponsible and baffling how many people get “accidentally” pregnant. But it happens. Tragically often. And an accidental pregnancy isn’t 100% an indicator of irresponsibility and inability to parent.

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Perhaps… But this letter sure is.

      • landygirl June 25, 2013, 1:10 pm

        I’m going to have to agree with you on this LW.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 1:22 pm

        Uhhh, I think a large percentage of babies born in this country are accidental. I was. I’m not sure why my mother didn’t take more precautions (though she couldn’t take the pill because of migraines), but it really had little to do with her parenting skills…

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 1:26 pm

        Right? 52% of pregnancies are “unintended”…pretty sure that doesn’t equate to bad parenting.

      • Bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

        52 percent? Damn. So straight people are even dumber than I thought… Who knew?

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 2:24 pm

        I’m so sick of you always giving straight people shit for accidental pregnancies. I mean really? If it was possible for a same sex couple to have an accidental pregnancy I’m pretty sure the accidental rate would be pretty close to the same. I’m so over you consistently slamming a group of people. FFS. You are so damn judgmental.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:29 pm

        It’s not just straight people. It’s any group of people that BGM doesn’t happen to belong to.

      • bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Whatever. In this day of age with the world population fucking exploding to the point where the planet is already hopelessly fucking doomed — and with all the modern methods of contraception — there is NO fucking excuse for 52 percent of you to be so fucking stupid.

        And I call BS on your thesis.

        I have had a ton of straight friends and acquaintances in my life “accidentally” get pregnant. “Whoosie!” “The condom broke!” “We don’t know what happened!” Meanwhile — not a single one of my many, many gay friends has ever gotten HIV (in twenty years!) and it’s not exactly a modern medical miracle. It’s called using fucking condoms and being responsible. Look into it, Straight People. Please. REALLY! It’s not that hard…

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:36 pm

        You’re assuming that biologically it’s just as easy to get HIV as it is to have an accidental pregnancy.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 2:38 pm

        That example doesn’t even compare. The chances of getting pregnant from sex with a random male are much higher than the chances of getting HIV from a random male. Unless a person only has sex with HIV-positive people.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 2:40 pm

        You’re making yourself look like an ass.

      • bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 2:47 pm

        Um, in a big city and if you sleep with a lot of people it IS just as easy. For starters… you can catch HIV 365 days of the year so each and every time you sleep with some random unprotected you are at serious risk…

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 2:49 pm

        But it isn’t 52% of PEOPLE being stupid, it is 49 (really 29%) of BABIES are accidental/unwanted. “Only 5% of reproductive-age women have an unintended pregnancy each year.” So 95% of reproductive age women are NOT “being stupid.” So an overwhelming majority of women are not being “so fucking stupid” as to get pregnant accidentally.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:58 pm

        @BGM, But have you read a study that says the rate of HIV transmissions : HIV exposure? Not to mention that HIV isn’t even all that common, whereas sperm and eggs are VERY common. There are also demographic factors that play into your friend group and why they might not have HIV.

      • bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 3:06 pm

        In the early 1980s, HIV was spreading like a wildfire through the gay population. It WAS adopting the rigorous usage of condoms that greatly slowed and reduced that transmission rate…

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 3:06 pm

        A sample size of “many, many friends” doesn’t really mean much. None of my friends has had an accidental pregnancy, but that obviously doesn’t reflect the national rates.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 3:13 pm

        Exactly Lindsey. It’s well documented that more unwanted pregnancies happen in lower income areas, which often have less education and access to health care. There are also a lot of ethnicity and socioeconomic trends playing into it. It’s not really comparable to the homosexual community where safe sex is pushed due to the HIV risks. And actually the HIV rates in low income areas are growing (or at least not declining like other groups) which is also related to the lack of condom use.

        Also the HIV rate in the elder is shooting up because using condoms wasn’t as big of a deal back in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and since the women are post-menopausal and there is no pregnancy risk- many go with out.

      • bagge72 June 25, 2013, 3:16 pm

        The only way that would be comparable would be if you had one group of gay friends who weren’t infected by HIV who only had sex with another group of gay friends who had HIV. So basically what you are saying means absolutely nothing, and you have nothing else to compare this too. Guess what none of my straight friends have gotten HIV either. Also out of the 49,082 new case of HIV in 2010, 30,000 of those case were from male to male sexual contact so it does seem strait people aren’t really the dumbs ones, I thik 19% of the women bringing an unwated child into the world is a little less “fucking stupid” then 61% of new HIV cases being from gay men.

      • bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 3:26 pm

        Fine. You’re all rate. The high rate of condom usage of condoms among gay men has NOTHING to do with the fact that the HIV infection rate dramatically dropped… the rate of 30,000 is actually shockingly low. It used to be much, much higher.

      • bagge72 June 25, 2013, 3:33 pm

        The rate of unintended pregnancies dropped too, so what is your point? That is with a much larger scale too.

      • rachel June 25, 2013, 3:33 pm

        sigh. Mark, no one has said that gay men don’t use condoms, or that the use of condoms didn’t help slow the spread of HIV. All people have said is that you cannot not use your anecdotal “none of my friends have gotten HIV” evidence to prove the point that gay men are better at safe sex. Even if ALL pregnancies are unwanted, there’s NO way of knowing how many straight couples are using protection correctly…because those people aren’t getting pregnant! You are seeing a skewed view because people who get accidentally pregnant are more likely to be writing into an advice column. No one is going to write into DW just to say “I use condoms all the time, and the pill, and I’ve never gotten pregnant. kthxbai”

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 4:29 pm

        But Bagge, that’s not even the right number! It’s 5% of women (per year) who have unexpected preganancies; not 29%! it’s 29% of BABIES that are unexpected!

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 4:30 pm


      • MackenzieLee June 25, 2013, 9:20 pm

        The really analytical part of me wants to figure out which is actually more likely, getting HIV as a man who sleeps with men or getting pregnant as a woman who sleeps with men. The percentage of men that are highly resistant to HIV infection, women/men that are infertile or less fertile, the proportion of time that women ovulate, the frequency of HIV transmission during male/male sex when one partner is infected etc. etc. etc. Plus if the person sleeps with the same partner often (ex. 1 person every day of the month) vs. many different people less often (ex. 3 people per month each 1 time) the stats would be far different for the two groups as STD transmission depends on both the number of people and the number of occurrences of sex and pregnancy depends only on the number of occurrences of sex.

        I’m uber late to the party and I’m sure my analysis wasn’t interesting to anyone except me. But there are just so many factors that it would be hard to ever calculate (and kind of futile because after all what would all of those calculations even tell us that could actively help the world).

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 2:32 pm

        Because it’s clearly intelligence that’s stopping same-sex couples from having accidental pregnancies…

      • bittergaymark June 25, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Right. You’re all fucking geniuses for making babies with people you don’t even vaguely like. Real rocket scientists who then think the families of you babydaddies can’t do basic simply math… or even count.

        PS — I’ve had sex with three women a dozen or so times, and surprise, surprise. None of them got pregnant!

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 2:39 pm

        Gold medal for you!

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:40 pm

        Mark, GG misquoted the statistics. It’s only 19% that are unwanted. Click through to the link if you care to.

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 2:46 pm

        Also, the stats are misleading. It is talking about the pregnancies, not the people. It also says “5% of reproductive-age women have an unintended pregnancy each year.” So 95% of reproductive age women are NOT “being stupid.”

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:48 pm

        Good point!

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 2:47 pm

        BUT “The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended remained essentially stable between 2001 (48%) and 2006 (49%).” so, maybe not unwanted, but not necessarily planned either.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:52 pm

        Right, but there’s a big difference there. That’s the difference between getting pregnant when you weren’t going to start trying to conceive for a few more months and getting pregnant when you absolutely don’t want a baby.

        I’m not trying to be picky about it. I’m just trying to show BGM that unintended pregnancies don’t always mean the people were being stupid. There’s a wide range of what that could mean.

      • theattack June 25, 2013, 2:38 pm

        GG, Not to be nitpicky, but it’s actually 48% that weren’t intended. And 29% of those pregnancies were just mistimed, not actually unwanted. That only leaves 19% of pregnancies as completely unwanted.

      • rachel June 25, 2013, 2:42 pm

        Yeah, I was assuming unintended must also include married couples that are sort of laissez faire about birth control or only use nfp or pulling out or something because they just don’t really want a kid YET.

      • Lindsay June 25, 2013, 2:48 pm

        Yeah, me too. “Unintended” implies unplanned at that moment, but not necessarily unwanted.

      • GatorGirl June 25, 2013, 2:45 pm

        Whoops, I flip flopped the graph. Either way it’s still close to 50% were not actively planned. “The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended remained essentially stable between 2001 (48%) and 2006 (49%).” It’s a huge portion of pregnancies that are being lumped into some idiot category bullshit.

      • 6napkinburger June 25, 2013, 2:42 pm

        That includes married couples where they aren’t technically “Trying” but they also aren’t using birth control. They aren’t “Stupid”, they’re just not counting days, peeing on sticks, etc., and letting things happen organically.

        That skews the numbers.

  • Amanda June 25, 2013, 1:20 pm

    LW, my advice is to stop letting your emotions guide your behavior and actually THINK things through before acting. For instance, how did you come to conclusion that you could keep your baby a secret if you are friends with your ex’s sister? That makes zero sense, which signifies to me that you weren’t using your brain properly when you made that decision. USE YOUR BRAIN PROPERLY LW. You are now responsible for the development of another human being! Holy fuck right?!! As RuPaul would say, don’t fuck it up. Don’t let your selfish, emotionally-charged decisions negatively impact your daughter. Please grow up and show her a model for a kind, loving and responsible adult. You owe her and the rest of humanity that much.

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  • AKchic_ June 25, 2013, 1:41 pm

    *sigh* This is a very hard issue, and LW, believe me, I understand partially what you are going through. When my 1st husband was in jail, he would beg me to bring the kids to see him. Even though he was in jail for things he did to ME and I had multiple restraining orders against him and every call/letter/3rd party communication that wasn’t an attorney was considered violating his restraining orders AND one of the terms of his sentencing.

    I haven’t read the other comments, so I don’t know if you’ve actually given additional information. However, from what I’ve read – here is my take:

    If you don’t want him calling, have the calls from the prison blocked. In Alaska, all calls are made through a system that introduces itself before the actual call. It says something to the effect of “an inmate at X correctional facility is trying to call you. To place this call on hold, press X, to accept this free call from [inmate’s name in inmate’s voice comes on], please press zero. To block calls from this facility, please press X”.
    Or, you could change your phone number and NOT give it to anyone within his family.

    My biggest recommendation is to get yourself to a legal clinic and make sure you have 100% physical and legal custody of your child. Yes, technically you do, but there is no order in place, which means that once your ex is out of jail, he could file a motion on his own. Establishing custody early on will help you.

    Wendy is right, however. You need to start thinking in terms of what’s best for your child, not what’s best, necessarily, for you. I keep my kids away from my first ex-husband for many reasons. He’s manipulative, has a history of kidnapping his own children and threatening them with bodily harm if he doesn’t get his way, always has an unregistered gun with him (he’s a felon and isn’t allowed guns), and has a nasty habit of threatening the women in his life with said weapons if he doesn’t get his way. Every judge I had to come in contact with said the same thing: no visitation unless it’s supervised by a 3rd party. Since that wasn’t what he wanted, he refused any/all visitation (which suited us fine).

    You may need to cut off his family as your friends. They are going to be loyal to him as family. To them, you are hiding his blood, his child, something that he has a right to be part of (in their minds). Unless he was physically abusive towards you, or threatened you with bodily harm/death, you will need to figure out how to co-parent effectively with him. Unless of course, you get an order saying that he has no custody, visitation, or rights. And that is hard without proof of abuse. Even in AK, they won’t strip a parent of custodial rights unless there is someone else ready to adopt (i.e., stepparent adoption) or it’s a long-term foster situation and the parents have been deemed too far gone for placement back in the home (think: 10+ times in rehab, or both parents in prison for the next 20 years).
    Whatever you do, please make sure it’s the best for your child, and not just for you.

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    • Boosker June 25, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Yeah, it seems like if you really wanted to move on from that whole chapter in your life, you wouldn’t have maintained contact with his sister-in-law. You had to have known that the news would’ve gotten back to him. I just hope you aren’t using your child as a way to hurt him the way he hurt you. That being said, you are perfectly within your rights to not want your child taken to a prison visit. But based on your letter, that’s not what is giving you qualms.

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  • honeybeenicki June 25, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I don’t have enough information about this specific LW’s situation to provide any real advice. I just wanted to point out that someone going to jail/prison or ever being arrested does not necessarily mean they should forever be branded a bad person or a bad father. My view of this is probably extremely clouded, but I’m pretty sure I held the same belief prior to being personally affected by it.

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  • Sue Jones June 25, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Well, if he wants to play “Daddy” after he gets out of prison, he also has to cough up child support… in my little world, anyone who is a felon/criminal gets nowhere near my kid, biodad/sperm donor or not. I can completely see where this LW is coming from. This is aside from any “parental rights” he may have… Once someone does something that they have go to prison for, that is over the line and I fail to see how it would be in the child’s best interest to have him in her life. The courts may rule otherwise, but if you don’t want to visit the loser in jail, don’t visit the loser in jail. Hopefully he is in for a very long time. If he is released and you feel that he is a danger to you and your child, you can file a restraining order.

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    • Sue Jones June 25, 2013, 9:52 pm

      I am not really advocating breaking a court order, if ever there is one, but I can see her point of view, but yeah, Guy Friday is the lawyer so what he says.

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  • findingtheearth June 25, 2013, 11:58 pm

    I have a friend who has a 5 year old and the father is in prison. Not just jail, but prison. The boy will be 9 when the father is released, barring no real problems and he will be on probation for while.

    I showed her this question and this thread. Her advice “if his family will help you and support you, do it.”

    In her case, prison took a guy who did not care and he has changed. Its not everyone, but she says it is enough, for now. He calls when he can. He knows his back child support is growing and has talked to Child Support Enforcement Divison about it. He sends letters. He wants to be a part of his son’s life, but knows he cannot be a constant figure now.

    She is engaged. She is happily with someone else. He has to see that and know that is his own fault and readily admits it.

    So, I still say to the LW, talk to this guy. See if he wants a legitimate role in his child’s life. See what his family wants. Realize people change, and how he treated you is not always the way he will be with his child.

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  • andrea Brooks July 6, 2019, 1:44 am

    Hi, I disagree with this advice. If he is in jail. He lost rights including being a father. I like how the author states” you are keeping him from his kid& he could be a postive role model”… Ummm in jail…. Ummm right??
    So, now im guessing he dobt make money while in jail so he cant contribute to psying for her! You got to find or pay for a babysitter to go visit him in jail… Pay and take time out of your busy life as a sibgle parent to go visit him so he can see his kid… In jail! Jails are disgusting and I wouldnt want my baby there!
    If he treated you badly chances are yes going to treat his baby badly! Stay away and move. Once he’s out, & csn help provide, once hes out and can prove to be a good law abiding citizen… Maybe then he can prove to be a good dad abd worthy of such a visit!
    Again, please dont take the advice written in this article. Not everyone is Dear Abby material !

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    • anonymousse July 6, 2019, 8:39 am

      I’m sure that he’s probably out of jail now, considering this letter was posted SIX years ago.

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