Bad advice is bad. July 15, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

We've all had our share of miserable exes. And nobody likes family law. Still, the advice given here is terrible, bad, no-good advice.

However, the advice given to this poster is terrible.

You know who gets to decide if people lose their parental rights ? The courts do.

You know who doesn't get to decide that ? The other parent.

This isn't a "men's rights" thing this is a "parent's rights" thing.

What she is proposing to do - and what Askme is advising - is to play judge, jury, and executioner on another human beings right to raise and know their children.

It's a popular solution in Askme and its wrong on so many levels.

It is terrible, terrible, legal advice. It's illegal - although odds of prosecution are low, a motivated parent with a good lawyer would have a field day with it. Parental interference and kidnapping are serious. Note how much traction this idiot had against the mother, and if he'd been a little less stupid, she'd be without custody.

It is bad advice. The thing to do is to confront your problems and deal with them - not run away and hide and hope they get the hint and go away.

It's wrong advice. The repercussions of sex can include having to coparent a child with someone you don't like anymore. Part of being a grown up is working with people you don't like.

Askme should refrain from encouraging people to take the kid and run.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt to Etiquette/Policy at 9:24 AM (260 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

What she is proposing to do - and what Askme is advising - is to play judge, jury, and executioner on another human beings right to raise and know their children.

Did you miss the part where she said he was not interested in having more children?

She already knows he doesn't want it. What makes you think this is going to be a road-to-Damascus moment?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on July 15, 2011


What exactly do you want to happen here? You've shared your opinion in the thread, the OP can take or leave your advice just like everybody else's.
posted by Gator at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]



Well, there is a difference between an abstract "I don't want to have any more kids" and "I'm pregnant and keeping it" in that the seed has already been planted.

In any event, if he wants to be involved or not is up to him. Not her. If she feels she's got good grounds to exclude him against his will, then she needs to see family court.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note how much traction this idiot had against the mother, and if he'd been a little less stupid, she'd be without custody.

Note that that was a divorce case in another country, and completely irrelevant to the post you're having so much trouble with.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What exactly do you want to happen here? You've shared your opinion in the thread, the OP can take or leave your advice just like everybody else's.

I think this is a clue: It is terrible, terrible, legal advice. It's illegal...

What happens to other illegal advice?
posted by DU at 9:35 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]



What exactly do you want to happen here?


There are prohibitions in Askme concerning incorrect legal advice, and well, this is bad legal advice. Also, there are prohibitions against illegal activity, and yeah, the poster would probably never be tried or convicted, keeping a child away from a parent is kidnapping at worst and parental interference at best.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2011


It's illegal

[citation needed]
posted by Gator at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm at a loss as to how you can read this case and think the blame is solely on the side of the mother.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2011


Well, there is a difference between an abstract "I don't want to have any more kids" and "I'm pregnant and keeping it" in that the seed has already been planted.

But that is the only known difference. You cannot know for certain that he would magically feel different about the situation because "oh, wait, it's a REAL child rather than a hypothetical one? That changes everything!"

That is, YOU cannot know because you are not one of the two people that was in the relationship. The person who is one of those two people is profoundly opposed to involving him as a father, and is convinced that he wouldn't want it. Take her at her word about that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What happens to other illegal advice?

Depends mostly on the nature and context of the advice, not on the perceived illegality of it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:38 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's illegal

[citation needed]


This. At least where I live, it is explicitly not illegal to decline to name the father on the child's birth certificate. On the contrary, in order to name my partner on the birth certificate I had to jump through a number of hoops (including having a statement notarized) because I was unmarried.
posted by anastasiav at 9:42 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Take her at her word about that.

I did. However, the right way to sever a parent from their children is in a court of law, not just because one might conjure that they are bad people.

In other words, whether he gets to be dad or not is not for her to decide.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the advice is illegal. As in against the law. While I don't presume to have looked at the law of every jurisdiction--as you evidently have--I have not seen a law on the books that makes it a crime to withhold news of a pregnancy from the father. Can you provide a citation?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


DU writes "What happens to other illegal advice?"

It's allowed to stand and other people can make comments refuting the advice.

Pogo_Fuzzybutt writes "There are prohibitions in Askme concerning incorrect legal advice, and well, this is bad legal advice."

I'm pretty sure that isn't the case. And in fact several lawyers have railed about incorrect legal advice being allowed to stand.

It seems pretty obvious to me that not informing the birth father is unethical. I'm surprised it is specifically illegal but it makes sense. But as advice goes at least there is little chance of bodily injury or death so it's a couple orders of magnitude less problematic than some of the answers that have been given on Ask in the past.
posted by Mitheral at 9:43 AM on July 15, 2011


The thing to do is to confront your problems and deal with them - not run away and hide and hope they get the hint and go away.

If this were not only playing out so dramatically in my life right now but also the most sensible advice, imagine what would happen if it began to be followed. The end of AskMe?

Personally I've decided that being adult also means taking the hint.
posted by infini at 9:45 AM on July 15, 2011


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "There are prohibitions in Askme concerning incorrect legal advice"

There are prohibitions on MeTa concerning citing fictitious site policies.
posted by Plutor at 9:47 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thank you, Pogo_Fuzzybutt. I was surprised by how strong my reaction was to that thread. Most people are assuming that the young woman's description of her ex as abusive is accurate, that even if he was verbally abusive to her that that negates his parental rights. It sucks, but people get pregnant by assholes and even assholes have legal rights.

Take her at her word about that.

Why? My daughter's birthmother--and us as well--were sure her birthfather wouldn't be interested in parenting. He was a teenage boy, for heaven's sake! But he sought custody. The only one who might actually know how the ex will respond to the pregnancy is him--and he might not even know until he finds out about it.

But, also, she's someone who recently broke up with her lover, and may not be a reliable reporter in apportioning blame for how that relationship worked, or didn't. Why should we take her word for it that this guy is such bad news that the child is better off without him, or that he's such bad news that it's right and proper to lie to him about something this important? Why should we take her word about his feelings now, based on something he said to her in the past? Do people never change their minds?

In addition, he may have family who would want to be involved. His parents, although they have no legal rights, might want to be involved in their grandchild's life.

Also, I think that if we, collectively, don't think it's OK for men to simply ignore their parental responsibilities, then we can't think it's OK to deny them their parental rights.
posted by not that girl at 9:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [38 favorites]


Whether it is advice that is illegal or not, I leave to the MeFi Lawyers Guild.

I think advising the mother to conceal the pregnancy from the father is a morally bad course, because it commits her to a lifetime of lying not only to the father, but to the child, about the child's parentage. I think it's just bad parenting to intentionally lie to your child, from Day 1, about such a fundamental part of his personal history, in order to keep your interests as a mother and ex-partner of even a bad father, paramount.

If she takes this course, and the child ever does find out the truth, she'll have only herself to blame for any blowback that creates to her relationship with the child. OTOH, if she makes the decision to tell the father, whatever his reaction, she's under no obligation to get back with the father, or to have anything more than an arms length co-parenting situation, at worst. Whatever court supervised family drama might play out over such arrangements, seems to me a small price to pay for being able to be honest from the get go with her child.
posted by paulsc at 9:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This. At least where I live, it is explicitly not illegal to decline to name the father on the child's birth certificate.

Being the birth certificate doesn't have any bearing parental rights. Being on the certificate does not confer them, and not being on the certificate does not deny them.

The rules will vary by state, but the BC is not as meaningful as people like to believe.

If there is a dispute about parentage, an adjudication of paternity will resolve the matter.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2011


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “Askme should refrain from encouraging people to take the kid and run.”

Maybe you can link an example where somebody encouraged that. I can't see a single answer where they have.

Seriously, you seem to be projecting issues onto this question. It has nothing to do with visitation or parents' rights. It has everything to do with whether two people should continue a romantic relationship simply because there's a kid. Hell, you linked to an answer that specifically mentioned court-ordered child support.

Where on earth you pulled the idea of kidnapping or extralegal parenting from, I have no idea.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


When giving advice, you have to consider that person's situation to the greatest extent possible. That means that sometimes, it's actually not constructive to tell them to do the most ethical thing because their particular circumstances/strengths/weaknesses make that advice impossible or counterproductive.

For example, in this case I am disappointed to see so little nuance from Pogo_Fuzzybutt, who is so concerned with the rights of the father than he seems to me to be ignoring the very young age of the poster and her fear than the father will use emotionally abusive tactics to force her to abort. That's a complicated situation that doesn't benefit from being turned into a soapbox for the Morally Awesomest Solutions. It's not kind to the poster.

I guess I'm just saying that there's a scared human being out there in a very difficult situation, and there are alternatives to Never Telling and Immediately Telling (like telling after months have passed and abortion is no longer an option). I understand that this is an important issue, and one that is emotional for many people. Just please let's me kind to the person who asked this question in the first place. I remember being 20 and I can't imagine how difficult it would have been for me to deal with this kind of situation back then.
posted by prefpara at 9:52 AM on July 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


I don't know what the law is here, it seems like there's a conflation of ethics/norms and codified law.

And jesus, given there are allegations of the guy being abusive, it seems like this meta is a true asshole move. Talk to the mods or A LAWYER PRACTICING LAW IN THE OP's STATE before you start telling the OP that she is going to be a criminal if she decides her welfare, the child's welfare, is more important than telling this dude he's a father.

The OP is twenty. Freakin' Christ on a Cross dial the fucking judgments back for a very young person in a difficult situation.
posted by angrycat at 9:53 AM on July 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


I think it's just bad parenting to intentionally lie to your child, from Day 1, about such a fundamental part of his personal history, in order to keep your interests as a mother and ex-partner of even a bad father, paramount.

There are conceivable cases, though, in which the physical and emotional safety for the child would be paramount, instead. The question is simply whether this is such a case.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2011


The OP is twenty. Freakin' Christ on a Cross dial the fucking judgments back for a very young person in a difficult situation.

Nothing the OP said led me to judge her. I don't know about Pogo_Fuzzybutt, but my own reaction to the thread was about the number of people telling her to simply not tell the father about the baby.
posted by not that girl at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, everybody is free (within the AskMe guidelines) to post these opinions about whether or not to tell the father in the AskMe thread. I still don't see why this is here. If it's because the "don't tell him" advice is supposedly illegal, I still say [citation needed]. And the OP, though anonymous, made her location clear -- currently in Atlanta, father's in Manhattan, where she will be returning soon, presumably for school, so it should be easy as pie to look up the local statutes involving this sort of thing. Right?
posted by Gator at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


not that girl, I didn't say anybody was judging the OP. That would be assholery on steroids. The judgments have to do with people saying I Know What is Right and You All Other People Are Wrong even though there seems to be a fair amount of people knowing not what the fuck they're talking about, w/r/t a matter of law.
posted by angrycat at 9:56 AM on July 15, 2011

This isn't a "men's rights" thing this is a "parent's rights" thing.

What she is proposing to do - and what Askme is advising - is to play judge, jury, and executioner on another human beings right to raise and know their children.
Have you read what you wrote? You can't say it's not a fathers' rights thing because it's a fathers' rights thing. The very concern you express is that she will take away his rights as a father without judicial process.

And I'd really like a citation to any statute or case to support your claim that this is illegal. It might be -- I don't know. It also might not be.

Declining to inform the guy could carry legal risk because family law is all about the kid's best interests, and everything in the world is relevant to that, but that alone doesn't make it illegal.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2011



Maybe you can link an example where somebody encouraged that. I can't see a single answer where they have.
I completely understand your not wanting to raise your child without a father. But it sounds like your child deserves for that father to be someone other than this person.
Figure out how to do it alone or frankly, don't do it.
You can find the rest yourself.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2011


Pogo, I was the one who said "your child possibly deserved for that father to be someone other than this person. You will note that "your child deserves for that father to be someone other than this person" is not the same thing as "never tell this man that you are pregnant."

Seriously, you are projecting a LOT upon this. I invite you to take a few minutes' break to consider whether there may be anything from your own past which is causing you to read things through a particular filter, and whether that filter is perhaps skewing your reaction some.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


>Seriously, you seem to be projecting issues onto this question. It has nothing to do with visitation or parents' rights. It has everything to do with whether two people should continue a romantic relationship simply because there's a kid.

I'm not certain that this is correct.

In the first paragraph, OP states that the relationship is over:
>I was in a relationship with my ex for almost two years.
>I ended the relationship two months ago.

And even though
>part of me is afraid I'll go back to him.
>I know I need to stay away.


This part seems the crux:
>I am afraid that if I go to him he will push me to not keep the child.

Doesn't "go to him", in this context, mean informing the ex of the pregnancy?

In OP's mind, the romantic relationship itself is over and deservedly so-- her question is how to go about keeping and raising the child, and whether and how the father can be kept out of this.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:05 AM on July 15, 2011


"that she is going to be a criminal if she decides her welfare, the child's welfare, is more important than telling this dude he's a father."

Whether he gets to be a dad to the kid is up to him and the courts to decide.

She doesn't get to. It doesn't really matter how bad the dude is, unless a court has decided he can't be dad, he can get to be.

She needs to understand that. Because the day he retains a good lawyer, her life will become hell.

NY penal code for custodial interference :
A person is guilty of custodial interference in the second degree
when:
1. Being a relative of a child less than sixteen years old, intending
to hold such child permanently or for a protracted period, and knowing
that he has no legal right to do so, he takes or entices such child from
his lawful custodian...
There are others.

Yeah, I agree, prosecution is unlikely. Still, lots of other sanctions can result, from contempt of court to loss of placement and so on. What she is proposing to do is a bad idea from a legal standpoint.

It is exceedingly bad legal advice to tell one parent to lie to another parent about a child.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:06 AM on July 15, 2011


Personally, I think that it's certainly ethical to choose not to inform the father about the child until after it's born. He has a legal interest in the child, but he has no legal interest in the pregnancy, and that seems like a set of worms that are better off left in the can.
posted by KathrynT at 10:08 AM on July 15, 2011 [26 favorites]


Pogo, how is an estranged father the "lawful custodian" in your example?

I've heard of tilting at windmills before, but in this whole thing I think you are leaping face-first right into the spinning blades.
posted by hermitosis at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


"Lawful custodian" would seem to be the key phrase in that particular paragraph. Would the father in this case be the "lawful custodian"? Further citations would seem to be in order.

P_F, I know you're taking this personally because of your personal history with these issues. Even a cursory glance at your AskMe contributions makes this obvious. But you're overreacting here. If you have actual advice for the OP of that thread and/or legal citations, go ahead and make them, but I continue to fail to see what this argument is doing here other than stirring people up.
posted by Gator at 10:11 AM on July 15, 2011


He's only estranged in the sense that no one told him the kid exists, he is a legal parent. Two years from now she could decide to try and collect child support so he deserves to know now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've heard of tilting at windmills before, but in this whole thing I think you are leaping face-first right into the spinning blades.

Seconding this. I mean, can you clarify the steps you're taking to get from reading the OP say "he doesn't want to be a father and I'm pretty sure he'd ask me to get rid of it", and thinking "be careful, he will try to claim parental rights"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2011


Doesn't "go to him", in this context, mean informing the ex of the pregnancy?


Please don't get hung up on specific phrasing in the question unveiling some sort of hidden meaning. The OP contacted me before posting, and I helped her organize her thoughts into the question as written. Even though she approved it, I don't want some meaning that I may have unintentionally injected into the wording to speak for her personal thoughts or feelings.
posted by phunniemee at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was a MeTa thread waiting to happen and I advised the OP of the anon thread that it was likely. Bad advice is cetainly bad advice and worth what she is paying for it.

There are prohibitions in Askme concerning incorrect legal advice, and well, this is bad legal advice.

What? No there aren't. I feel strongly that the OP of the question should inform the father. Other people feel differently. At some point she's going to have to make a personal choice and people who care about this can help her make the right one.

Pogo_Fuzzybutt, you have commented in the thread and you've opened up this MeTa. There aren't AskMe rules being broken and there's not much we're going to do except keep an eye on things. I'm sorry if this question pushes your buttons, but this is sort of the site working as designed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


P_F, I know you're taking this personally because of your personal history with these issues.

I'm not taking this personally. I haven't brought up the facts in my case in this discussion at all.

I brought this up because I happen to be familiar with the subject, and because I felt this issue was not being held to the usual high standards for Askme responses.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2011


Gator, why do you have a problem with this metatalk post? I thought taking it over here so the fighty arguing doesn't clutter up the ask thread (before the mods can delete it) was one of the approved uses of the grey.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The citation to a criminal statute is really not helpful here. To be criminally liable, there has to have been a custodial determination and she would have to take the child "knowing that [s]he has no legal right to do so." It's good to suggest she see an attorney to know what her and his rights are; it's not great to suggest she's criminally liable.

Uh, as a lawyer who frequently grimaces at the crap legal advice doled out on AskMe, the standards are not as high as you are thinking. You only notice here because you have experience in this area. It's pretty much a free-for-all.
posted by *s at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, J. Wilson, but just because you can start an argument about a touchy subject in MeTa, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. My initial question to P_F was about what he hopes will happen here. Was he hoping that the comments he doesn't like would be deleted? Does he just want to rail about the injustice of the system against fathers? Was he hoping he could draw more attention to the question so that like-minded people would go over there and back him up? (I've noticed a number of fighty comments being deleted from that thread, incidentally.) What's the point of this?
posted by Gator at 10:21 AM on July 15, 2011


In New York, a child born to an unmarried mother has no legal father.

Paternity establishment is the process of determining the legal father of a child. Every child has a biological father, but if the parents are not married, the child has no legal father, and the biological father has no rights or responsibilities to the child. In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child.

I guess we can close this one up now.
posted by empath at 10:21 AM on July 15, 2011 [30 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt, I think you're overreacting to this. The OP is getting a lot of disparate advice, plus a good bit of 'see a lawyer.' She'll probably end up seeing a lawyer.

(Keep in mind that you're not lawyer either. I don't what the father's legal rights are in this situation. A lawyer will tell her that. But I'm skeptical about the idea that giving birth to your own child would be considered "kidnapping.")
posted by nangar at 10:22 AM on July 15, 2011


I'll tell you what I don't like about this metatalk post:

I for one have been guilty of seeing fighty meta threads as entertainment. I don't think that is terribly egregious because I try to behave myself.

And so now we have people who are taking two lives (mother, child) or three (m,c, and father) and making a nice little spectacle about it.

Motherfucking fuck fuck fuck. People's problems shouldn't be an opportunity for you (op of this metatalk) to celebrate your own morality. You think you are so superior? Get in fucking line, everybody does.

But if this a legal question, the way the metatalk was framed, then Pogo Fuzzbutt, look up the law in Atlanta and NYC and don't try to make your argument with any code wherein "legal guardian" is not defined.

What you have done, Pogo Fuzzybutt, is as foolish as a non-physician trumpeting their based on nothing beliefs about anatomy.

If you want to make an argument that there is only one ethical course to take, make it in the thread.

But no, you wanted a wider audience, so you did this. Good job!
posted by angrycat at 10:23 AM on July 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


empath: “In New York, a child born to an unmarried mother has no legal father.”

Thanks. Quoting this to underline the fact: Pogo_Fuzzybutt is flatly wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


What's the point of this?

From the post : "Askme should refrain from encouraging people to take the kid and run." We've other hard and soft rules about advice we should give in Askme.

I felt this subject could could use a bit more guidance and structure since it seems to come up from time to time, and is fairly predictable in outcome.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I started this meta to sort that out.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2011


>Please don't get hung up on specific phrasing in the question unveiling some sort of hidden meaning... Even though she approved it, I don't want some meaning that I may have unintentionally injected into the wording to speak for her personal thoughts or feelings.


Thanks for attempting to flesh things out a bit.

I don't see my interpretation as one relating to a hidden meaning-- to me, it looks like the surface meaning.

phunniemee, since you were in direct contact with OP, can you clarify for me?

Is OP's question:

1) Do I go back to him?
2) Can I have and raise the child, without informing the ex of the child?
3) Can I have and raise the child, by waiting to inform the ex until a much later point in the pregnancy, so that he can't intervene?
4) Something else?

Most seem to be interpreting the question as 1), whereas I (and possibly P_F), interpret it as 2.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:26 AM on July 15, 2011


What's the point of this?


I think it was this part of the original MeTa: "Askme should refrain from encouraging people to take the kid and run."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:27 AM on July 15, 2011


NY penal code for custodial interference :
A person is guilty of custodial interference in the second degree
when:
1. Being a relative of a child less than sixteen years old, intending
to hold such child permanently or for a protracted period, and knowing
that he has no legal right to do so, he takes or entices such child from
his lawful custodian...


Pogo, you are reading that statute completely wrong, blindly ignoring 1) the fact that the statute requires that the relative "has no legal right" to custody of the child (which is not the case here, in that she is the mother and custody has not be adjudicated by the NY Family Court), and 2) the child is not in the lawful custody of the erstwhile father (and the father doesn't want custody).

Failing to tell a man that he is the father of a child is not a crime in any jurisdiction that I am aware of.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Pogo Fuzzbutt, your latest post seems like a string of rationalities that you are using to shield yourself from accusations of this meta being a dick move. Nope, still a dick move.
posted by angrycat at 10:31 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Folks, let's please not do the speculation-about-Anonymous's-identity thing, thank you.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on July 15, 2011


But no, you wanted a wider audience, so you did this. Good job!

As I've stated, thats not what I was after.

I'd appreciate it if we could keep this from getting personal.

I'm sorry you don't believe that I really did intend to help improve the community and I apologize if by doing that I have somehow offended you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:31 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll never apologize for telling a woman to get her and her child away from her abuser. If it means I go to jail, I go to jail. I'd go proudly.

But really, who the hell prosecutes that?
posted by inturnaround at 10:32 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


can you clarify for me?

I'm only going to participate further in the threads if the OP specifically asks me to. I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't any unintended information being construed.
posted by phunniemee at 10:34 AM on July 15, 2011


[Folks, let's please not do the speculation-about-Anonymous's-identity thing, thank you.]

Oooooooh, I bet it's cortex!

posted by Sys Rq at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm sorry you don't believe that I really did intend to help improve the community and I apologize if by doing that I have somehow offended you.

Well, I take it personally. You're saying you think I (amongst others) broke the law. That's not something that happens to me every day.
posted by inturnaround at 10:36 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


She doesn't get to. It doesn't really matter how bad the dude is, unless a court has decided he can't be dad, he can get to be.

Is there a legal requirement - in any jurisdiction, or perhaps in either Georgia or New York - that she tell him she's pregnant? If not, I can't see how just not telling him - and not asking for child support - is in any way illegal. That it may be wrong is debatable, but that doesn't make it illegal.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011


Cortex is pregnant! You heard it here first!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011


There are prohibitions in Askme concerning incorrect legal advice,

It's been pointed out already by mods that this isn't true, but I think we need to understand why it can't ever be true - namely, most of us aren't lawyers and the ones who are lawyers are only licensed in certain jurisdictions. I have no idea what's legal in Australia (for example) and despite my best intentions, I could very well give someone advice that turns out to be illegal where they live.

AFAIK, the mods aren't lawyers and I'm certain they wouldn't want to even attempt to vet all the answers for their legal status in the OP's jurisdiction.

So - the obvious stuff - "threaten your ex with a gun if he doesn't pay child support" - sure, that kind of stuff is going to be deleted. That was a strictly hypothetical example. "Don't tell your ex you're having his child" - I have no idea if that's illegal or not, and given the lack of citations in this thread, you don't seem to know for sure either.
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As one of the people in that thread who did advise her to keep the pregnancy from the father, I am not at all deterred or shamed by this thread. First, as cited above several times, you are flatly wrong about the legality of such a course and second, to me it's far from unethical to protect a child from a lifetime of abuse. Are we going to have a metatalk post every time someone posts advice that doesn't conform to someone else's personal moral code?
posted by katyggls at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pogo, you are reading that statute completely wrong, blindly ignoring 1) the fact that the statute requires that the relative "has no legal right" to custody of the child (which is not the case here, in that she is the mother and custody has not be adjudicated by the NY Family Court), and 2) the child is not in the lawful custody of the erstwhile father (and the father doesn't want custody).

As I said it's an example. I said in the post :
"It's illegal - although odds of prosecution are low, a motivated parent with a good lawyer would have a field day with it."
Whether she ever goes to jail or faces prosecution or any civil action is not the point. The point is, she opens herself up to a number of deleterious legal actions by keeping the father out of the picture against his will.

So yeah, maybe I'm using illegal a bit too casually here - "against the rules of civil custodial procedure" seemed a bit much to type.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2011


I just want to emphasize:

It is terrible, terrible, legal advice. It's illegal - although odds of prosecution are low, a motivated parent with a good lawyer would have a field day with it. Parental interference and kidnapping are serious. Note how much traction this idiot had against the mother, and if he'd been a little less stupid, she'd be without custody.

Almost everything in this paragraph is wrong. He is not the parent of the child unless and until paternity is established. The mother is under no legal obligation to initiate that process. If the father wants to establish paternity, he'll have to go through the courts to do it.
posted by empath at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


who is the symbiont?
posted by clavdivs at 10:40 AM on July 15, 2011


In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child.

Yes, which is a relatively simple thing to do.

And with a decent lawyer, the courts tend to frown on parents segregating the kids from the other parent.

Which is to say, on the day the real father finds out - she could be in a lot of trouble.

Or none at all. It depends on him.

And that is why it is very bad advice.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2011


...in your opinion. Others disagree. Who here likes pancakes?
posted by Gator at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


but why make a meta thread when said bad advice is refuted in the askme, and now here.
posted by clavdivs at 10:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems to be the contention pogo
posted by clavdivs at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2011


.And with a decent lawyer, the courts tend to frown on parents segregating the kids from the other parent.

Which is to say, on the day the real father finds out - she could be in a lot of trouble


According to the state, he is not the legal father. Period. End of story.

What you are saying here is flatly untrue.

If he wants to establish paternity, he'll have to initiate that, and once it's done, then what you say applies. If she is correct that he isn't interested in being a father, then there is nothing the courts can or will do to her.
posted by empath at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yes, which is a relatively simple thing to do.

And voluntary.
posted by empath at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


high stack, triple butter, vermont-lite maple syrup on pewterware.
i concur with empath.
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


but why make a meta thread when said bad advice is refuted in the askme, and now here.

Sounds like he thinks that bad advice has been given before and he'd like the community to consider not giving it in the future. Ya'll can agree or disagree with that, but it's not rocket science.

Pogo, you could stand to walk away for a bit and clear your thoughts. The rest of ya'll (and myself) could probably do the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's a 20 year old who's pregnant and might want to keep it, but just escaped from an abusive relationship and is worried the father might pressure her to abort if he found out. Taking her at her word, I definately think she should NOT tell him until she's made up her own own mind and it's too late for him to pressure her into a decision she might regret.

Thats not the same thing as saying she should never tell him ever and take the kid and run. You seem to be assuming a lot about some of these answers, even ignoring the legal aspect of it. Theres definately no law saying she has to tell him before the baby is born.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:47 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


quoted by empath: “In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child.”

Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “Yes, which is a relatively simple thing to do.”

This is inane. It's like saying it would be "very bad advice" to tell me not to make payments on a car I don't own because it would be "a relatively simple thing to do" for me to buy a car in the future.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's what the NY website says on its FAQ:

Q: I want nothing to do with the father.

A: Even if you don't want a relationship with the father, acknowledging paternity has important benefits for your child, such as financial or medical support, information about family medical history, and the possibility of sharing parental responsibilities.


Note the lack of any threat of criminal prosecution.
posted by prefpara at 10:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


But it's only "bad advice" in his own vaunted opinion. Obviously some people think it's really not bad advice, and it's clearly a matter of debate. It's not like people told her to kill her ex and eat the child for breakfast, or some other egregiously amoral and illegal advice.
posted by katyggls at 10:50 AM on July 15, 2011


The question is why the thread is here, that is why even if he is wrong. It would be better if everyone stopped with the personal stuff and questioning of motives.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2011


Thats fair BB, if community and mods agree perhaps we can place some sort of enhanced flag on obvious bad advice. Then thats the issue and no longer a contention.
A highly visable bad advise flag seems wrong when community can catch the bad advise and make a reasoned argument on why not to follow the bad adivise In-thread with no flashy flags.

other then that, are we talking of just deleting "bad advice"?
posted by clavdivs at 10:52 AM on July 15, 2011


Eventually, the legal advice issue is going to bite the site in the ass, hard. Been saying it for years. We need to get smart about this.

Don't give legal advice on the internet.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Which is to say, on the day the real father finds out - she could be in a lot of trouble.

To round out the discussion, what trouble do you think she'll be in? You've yet to provide any support for the proposition that it is a crime for a woman to fail to notify a biological father of his paternity (the one statute you've cited is, essentially, a kidnapping statute and would not apply here at all, no no no). I would be shocked, shocked, to hear of any prosecutor bringing a case against a single mother in these circumstances.

If the father (who has already said he does not want more children) discovers the birth of the child in the future and demands access (which would be his right), what is the court going to do?

Grant visitation.

It's not like they're going to award damages to the father. In fact, in all likelihood, they'll impose a support requirement on the father when granting him access. Plus, in most jurisdictions, the court would weigh the best interests of the child before granting visitation (though would likely find that visitation is in the child's interest)--so even visitation is not certain. And, of course, if the child is in its majority, there is no visitation at all (absent what the child wants).

I fail to see what the problem is here. Which is good, because a 20-year-old pregnant girl has, frankly, enough to worry about without the weight of state action hanging over her head.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:53 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


HIGHLY obvious bad advice ("you should murder your ex-wife") will be deleted. Anything falling below that is debated in-thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:54 AM on July 15, 2011


"In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child."

Yes, which is a relatively simple thing to do.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt


You're speaking about this as if it's a black and white deal.

I know someone in almost this exact situation (not married, father of a child) who has tried for almost 3 years (the age of the child) to get paternity rights, is working with an attorney, and is no closer to being in the child's life than he was the day it was born.

Depending on the details, and the location, saying "it's a relatively simple thing to do" could be completely false.
posted by justgary at 10:56 AM on July 15, 2011


Here's what the NY website says on its FAQ:

Q: I want nothing to do with the father.

A: Even if you don't want a relationship with the father, acknowledging paternity has important benefits for your child, such as financial or medical support, information about family medical history, and the possibility of sharing parental responsibilities.

Note the lack of any threat of criminal prosecution.


You can't go into a courtroom and say "your honor, it wasn't on the website!" In a court of law you are charged with constructive knowledge of the law. You may have never looked it up, but that doesn't matter. If the statute says its wrong it is wrong. I don't know what the NY statutes say on the matter, but it is incredibly wrong advice to tell a person that some state website doesn't say anything about criminal prosecution for an act, therefore the act cannot be illegal. This is exactly why this legal advice thing is gonna hurt the site eventually. Because people don't know what they are talking about.

Imagine someone wrote a question in saying "I'm thinking of taking my own appendix out, what do I do?" Would we all be here saying gee, I think its a great idea? No, we would not.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:57 AM on July 15, 2011


Why do I feel like this is one of those "I know more about this subject than you could possibly imagine" situations?
posted by hermitosis at 10:57 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


because the higher contenious issue is family law and "internet law"
posted by clavdivs at 10:58 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


HIGHLY obvious bad advice ("you should murder your ex-wife") will be deleted. Anything falling below that is debated in-thread.

But how does anyone know what is "highly obvious bad advice?" I'm a lawyer and I don't know the answer to these questions.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2011


Ironmouth: “Don't give legal advice on the internet.”

Conveniently for those in the legal profession, almost everything boils down to a legal issue. Basically, lawyers would rather we didn't talk at all on the internet.
posted by koeselitz at 11:00 AM on July 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


If the father (who has already said he does not want more children) discovers the birth of the child in the future and demands access (which would be his right), what is the court going to do?

Grant visitation.


Who knows ? It would depend a great deal on how hard she had to work to keep the kid from the father.

Setting up the expectation that she is allowed to decide if can have access to the kid is wrong. It's bad advice to give to her.


If the father (who has already said he does not want more children)


Actually, the father hasn't said anything.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:00 AM on July 15, 2011


Ironmouth: "But how does anyone know what is "highly obvious bad advice?" I'm a lawyer and I don't know the answer to these questions."

I think direct incitement to a violent felony seems pretty clear.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:01 AM on July 15, 2011


Don't give legal advice on the internet.

We've gone round on this a hundred times as well. This isn't as simple as you assert, since "legal advice" has both strict and colloquial meanings. Is it "legal advice" to tell the OP that she doesn't have to tell the guy she's pregnant if she doesn't want to? If one is not a lawyer, how can one parse the difference between what is legal advice and what is not legal advice?

I agree that people should be careful when giving advice of any kind to strangers on the internet who can only present a limited amount of context.
posted by rtha at 11:01 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am not aware of a paternity law in any state that would impose a legal duty on a pregnant woman to inform the would-be biological father of the child of her pregnancy.
Moreover, I am not aware of any laws that would require a mother, after she has actually given birth to a child, to inform the biological father of the birth of the child.
For all the lawyers on this thread, feel free to cite a single law or case that implies the opposite.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Setting up the expectation that she is allowed to decide if can have access to the kid is wrong. It's bad advice to give to her.

But it's not necessarily illegal, which is what you initially and perhaps still are asserting.
posted by rtha at 11:02 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


HIGHLY obvious bad advice ("you should murder your ex-wife") will be deleted. Anything falling below that is debated in-thread.

This is true and succinct. Also, i acknowledge some contention in this thread but i dont personally. If the idea is to discuss the issue of bad advice, i say get why not. Ironmouth raises a good point though I think this has been covered before in other meta threads concluding that barring the creek raising, the chances of the site being liable is practically nil.
posted by clavdivs at 11:03 AM on July 15, 2011


Pogo, this is obviously personal for you. I suggest that maybe you lack any way to have some perspective here.
posted by inturnaround at 11:03 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's bad advice to give to her.

...in your opinion. Others disagree. I can keep this up as long as you can.
posted by Gator at 11:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


gator, will the water be warm when we cross the river?
runs towards shore

posted by clavdivs at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2011


Actually, the father hasn't said anything.

He has yet to pop into the thread to participate, but the OP states: "My ex has a child from a previous relationship and is not interested in having more children."

Since OP is anonymous, and I have yet to meet her ex-boyfriend, I'm going to have to take her word for it. You take AskMes at face value.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


People change their mind about wanting a kid sometimes when there are accidental pregnancies, or even if they still don't want the kid they feel a responsibility to participate, we don't know what his reaction would be to this news even if we take the OP at face value.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:10 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I had mod powers I'd definitely close this one up now before it turns into the trainwreck it's obviously about to turn into. [/cassandra]

We established that the advice wasn't illegal; what more is there to talk about, other than speculating on the identity of cortex's baby's co-parent? It seems like this is just going to get ugly and personal for no reason.
posted by gerryblog at 11:12 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This MetaTalk post seems to be an attempt to impose Pogo_Fuzzybutt's ideas of morality on Anonymous under the guise of opposing "terrible" legal advice, when it appears that it is actually Pogo_Fuzzybutt's legal advice that is incorrect. I have to say I am opposed to using MetaTalk to browbeat people in this manner.
posted by grouse at 11:12 AM on July 15, 2011 [30 favorites]


Let's run an opposite hypo. A man and and a woman are unmarried. The woman is 9 months pregnant. they get in a car accident on the way to the hospital. The husband delivers the baby right there and takes it with him, fleeing the accident.

The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant. There's a few confusing words about it in her file, which she never checks out.

Is it legal for the husband to not inform the wife that she has a child? What cases can you show otherwise?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on July 15, 2011


But it's not necessarily illegal, which is what you initially and perhaps still are asserting.

It can be illegal. Whether it is or not is going to turn on facts that we don't have, and events that haven't happened yet and the circumstances surrounding those.

Telling Askers that they should keep the father away sets up the (false) expectation that they have control over access when they almost certainly do not.

Back to my point - Askme should refrain from telling one parent to keep the other parent away from the kids extra-legally. There exist methods to do that, if they are actually warranted, and those askers should be encouraged to utilize those instead.

That's what I started this to say, and well, we've gotten afield on the legal/illegal thing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:13 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's another vote for closing this up. And I'll admit I was overly fighty. But what good can come of this.
posted by angrycat at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2011


The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant.

Finally the discussion turns to the important issues.
posted by gerryblog at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


I find that metafilter is not always a good place to get legal advice about how to think about other people's legal advice.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2011


gerryblog: "If I had mod powers I'd definitely close this one up now before it turns into the trainwreck it's obviously about to turn into. [/cassandra] "

To quote Jessamyn: "we only close MeTa threads when there is a reason (or a problem) and not just because it looks like we're done on a specific topic."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:15 AM on July 15, 2011


HIGHLY obvious bad advice ("you should murder your ex-wife") will be deleted. Anything falling below that is debated in-thread.

A handy guide:

IT WON'T GET DELETED: Dear AskMe,

I have somehow bent the everloving shit out of the laws of time and space and am posting this and will have time to read and consider responses in the space of maybe three and a half seconds, though hours will have passed from your perspective. My problem is that at this very moment, my ex-wife is charging at me with an axe, in an unprovoked attack. I happen to be holding a loaded shotgun right now, unrelated to this situation. She has not responded to any verbal attempts to calm her down or dissuade her from killing me, and I am cornered and cannot run away. The police have informed me - and I really should have spent a little more time considering why they'd have said this, otherwise I might not be in this pickle now - that if she should attack me with a weapon in precisely this manner, they would consider it self-defense if I took lethal action to stop her, and I would face no charges. What should I do?

IT WILL GET DELETED: Dear AskMe,

My car seems to lurch a bit while idling, but once it's actually in motion it's fine. What should I do? It's a 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, if that helps.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:15 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let's run an opposite hypo. A man and and a woman are unmarried. The woman is 9 months pregnant. they get in a car accident on the way to the hospital. The husband delivers the baby right there and takes it with him, fleeing the accident.

The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant. There's a few confusing words about it in her file, which she never checks out.


Oooh! Ooooh! I know this one!
They bury the survivors in Canada.
What do I win?
posted by Floydd at 11:15 AM on July 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


The key is this--we are not doing this woman a service if we do not tell her to go and get good legal advice from a competent professional in her state. Like it or not, parental rights and paternity and everything that stems from it is a legal question. It may very well be that it is perfectly legal not to tell him. But we should direct the poster to someone who can do her good--someone who has training and experience in that area of the law. We do not help the poster when we give her uninformed advice of any kind. Let someone who knows the actual law in her jurisdiction take over this difficult question, that could have facets we are not thinking of--such as future attempts to get child support and the like.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:16 AM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


And Pogo Fuzzybutt, whatever your views are, you haven't advocated for them well here. Gotten afield of the legal/illegal thing, when you phrased it as such in this thread -- well, you be no lawya, don't be playin' no law. And I think you have forfeited the right to say -- uhh actually I have no knowledge of the law but that's okay 'cause we're not talking about the law, anyway. Seriously.
posted by angrycat at 11:16 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, how is that at all an "opposite hypo?"
posted by sweetkid at 11:17 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Telling Askers that they should keep the father away sets up the (false) expectation that they have control over access when they almost certainly do not.

Still looking for where this was reliably demonstrated.
posted by hermitosis at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2011


Oh, Floydd, you don't bury survivors in Canada. You bury them in Grant's Tomb.
posted by cooker girl at 11:19 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, Floydd, you don't bury survivors in Canada. You bury them in Grant's Tomb.

His mother was also a doctor!
posted by sweetkid at 11:22 AM on July 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


Ironmouth: "You can't go into a courtroom and say "your honor, it wasn't on the website!" In a court of law [...]"

There have been several citations in this discussion to relevant NY state statutes that demonstrate that there is no criminal liability for failing to inform the father of a child of the existence of that child. Your tone is making me angry because I think you're being deliberately obtuse.
posted by prefpara at 11:23 AM on July 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


But it's not necessarily illegal, which is what you initially and perhaps still are asserting.

It can be illegal.


I don't think you have adequately cited how exactly it could be.

Still looking for where this was reliably demonstrated.

Should he find out and want to ask for paternity, the courts will decide. I think that is correct.

In general I think the best answer to the question is that no matter what you decide to do the decision has consequences that could lead you to Family Court at some point, so talk to a lawyer now so you are prepared for that possibility down the line. Family lawyers are also really good at giving general advice about this, better than internet commentators who don't know the details or the laws.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:23 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It can be illegal.

[CITATION STILL NEEDED]

And Ironmouth, numerous people in the AskMe thread urged the OP to talk to a lawyer.

As far as the issue of legal advice -- or "legal advice," depending on how you look at it -- causing problems for the site in the long run, do you have a solution? I mean a practical one, and not repeated assertions of "We shouldn't do this," which is what these threads always, always, always boil down to. Because absent a new rule or site policy, people are going to continue sharing their personal, sometimes wildly uninformed, opinions on AskMe.
posted by Gator at 11:25 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Ironmouth,

"Is it legal for the husband to not inform the wife that she has a child? What cases can you show otherwise?"

When you're in a courtroom asserting that something is illegal, you're the one who has to show cases or statutes that support your assertion. You don't just march in, claim something is illegal, and wait for the other side to come up with cases which disprove your assertion.
posted by prefpara at 11:27 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's run an opposite hypo.

Why deal with hypos at all?

Is there case law, for any jurisdiction in the US (since we know that that's where the OP is), where a woman has been criminally charged for not informing an ex that she's pregnant?
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant. There's a few confusing words about it in her file, which she never checks out.

Is it legal for the husband to not inform the wife that she has a child? What cases can you show otherwise?


Ghostbusters 2?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:29 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the husband would run into trouble trying to explain where he got the baby from long before the coma was done.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:30 AM on July 15, 2011


Whatcha gonna name your kid, Cortex?
posted by klangklangston at 11:31 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant. There's a few confusing words about it in her file, which she never checks out.

Is it legal for the husband to not inform the wife that she has a child? What cases can you show otherwise?


So this is where all those fired soap opera writers ended up.
posted by mikepop at 11:33 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


this is where fired everybody ends up.
posted by sweetkid at 11:35 AM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Gotten afield of the legal/illegal thing, when you phrased it as such in this thread

It wasn't the only point I made. I also said that it was wrong and bad, and helpfully gave a couple (not all!) of reasons why I saw it that way.

The legal/illegal thing is something that everyone latched onto, and I should have been better prepared for that, but well, live and learn.

And certainly, there is some tension between brevity and thoroughness and maybe I was too brief - I had as a belief that Mefites would see where I was going instead of where I'd been, and I didn't want to post a rant either. I wanted to layout, briefly, what I saw was wrong and what I thought a good course of action was to resolve it.

Anyway
"In general I think the best answer to the question is that no matter what you decide to do the decision has consequences that could lead you to Family Court at some point, so talk to a lawyer now so you are prepared for that possibility down the line."
is what I think is the best sort of answer to give in those situations. Family court does suck in a billion ways, but its currently the best option for parents to settle disputes over who gets to see the kids when.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:35 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, she should talk to a laywer, several people in the thread suggested that. Telling someone they should talk to a lawyer preclude you from giving a somewhat reasonably informed answer about what the law might be.
posted by empath at 11:36 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth has a point. I'm not lawyering anymore, but quite a few students/colleagues will float some law thing by me. And my response is always a) I am not a lawyer anymore, so I am not qualified; b) Yes I do know a fair amount about a, b, and c, but knowing a fair amount (as opposed to expertise) can be more dangerous than knowing absolutely nothing. That somebody on askme acted upon some half-assed legal advice and tragedy resulted, well, the site could get attacked for that.

Although I'm assuming matthowie has talked to an expert on these issues to protect the site.
posted by angrycat at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2011


.Telling someone they should talk to a lawyer doesn't preclude you from giving a somewhat reasonably informed answer about what the law might be.

(As long as you aren't representing that you're a lawyer, of course.
posted by empath at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2011


The legal/illegal thing is something that everyone latched onto,

Because it's how you framed the whole callout. If you'd framed it more like "She's getting bad and really one-sided advice" or "People are giving advice that I feel is morally wrong," then that's a different thing. But between asserting that what people are telling her to do is flat-out illegal and that family court is the only venue for this, you completely invited the latching.
posted by rtha at 11:43 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Right, the whole premise for this MetaTalk is the incorrect assertion that the advice she received is illegal. Without that as a trump, this is just one poster saying other posters shouldn't disagree with his opinions.
posted by gerryblog at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a the child of a very very eerily similar situation, I feel confidant in tell her: Hey scared pregnant girl, go off, decide what's best and if you want to have the baby stay the fuck away from the abuser. Abuse definitely tends to worsen during pregnancy! So once you have the baby, you can take the time you need to decide if you need/want to tell the father. My mom didn't and she had valid reasons that I still respect. I found my biological dad when I was 18, he had changed a lot over the years and we now have an ok relationship. He too understands the choices my mom made. She did it to protect us. No lawyers, no money no anything. SO yeah, I'd have a hard time saying someone who is abusive has an absolute right to notified.
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:48 AM on July 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


Ironmouth: "You can't go into a courtroom and say "your honor, it wasn't on the website!" In a court of law [...]"

There have been several citations in this discussion to relevant NY state statutes that demonstrate that there is no criminal liability for failing to inform the father of a child of the existence of that child. Your tone is making me angry because I think you're being deliberately obtuse.


My point isn't what the NY statutes say regarding the specifics. My point is that our discussion should not focus on what a website says. It is not evidence of the law and any information that might be read by the OP, here or in the other thread should be given by a lawyer. It is a common mistake to think that what an agency says on its website is the law, it is not.

The woman needs to get proper legal advice from a lawyer in her jurisdiction. We are not helping her.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is crazy. Can anyone cite any law anywhere in the US (see empath's link above) that states that any woman must legally inform an estranged partner of a pregnancy? If so, cite it, rather than arguing absurd hypotheticals or just gainsaying.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]



If you'd framed it more like "She's getting bad and really one-sided advice" or "People are giving advice that I feel is morally wrong,"


Yeah, it was a mistake on my part.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:52 AM on July 15, 2011


Right, the whole premise for this MetaTalk is the incorrect assertion that the advice she received is illegal. Without that as a trump, this is just one poster saying other posters shouldn't disagree with his opinions.

We shouldn't assume one way or the other. We should be guiding a person who doesn't have information to someone who can actually provide it and be held accountable for that advice. There maybe issues regardless of the criminal stuff persons are talking about--child support and custody issues that actions she takes would have unforeseen effects upon. She needs competent local legal advice now with a difficult situation she faces. We need to direct her to resources where she can get that advice, not give it to her now.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is not evidence of the law and any information that might be read by the OP, here or in the other thread should be given by a lawyer.

For fucks sake, it was put on the internet specifically for people in her situation to read BY THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
posted by empath at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2011


Seriously, not every life event is an occasion for silence while the asker humbly seeks the counsel of Wise Lawyers.

My comment in no way focused the discussion on what an agency website says. It was an example used for rhetorical effect in a larger conversation which already contained citations to the relevant law.

If you're going to insist that everyone STFU because the asker Must See A Lawyer Now, then the onus is on you to explain why that is. There is no criminal liability for failing to inform a putative father of your pregnancy. No one has demonstrated otherwise.

Professionals can always give expert advice. That doesn't mean that no one else is allowed to weigh in.
posted by prefpara at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


inturnaround writes "But really, who the hell prosecutes that?"

Not to equate "not telling the father he is a father" with kidnapping but parents get prosecuted for kidnapping their own kids all the time and there are often allegations of abuse. Usually from both sides.

katyggls writes "to me it's far from unethical to protect a child from a lifetime of abuse."

I don't think anyone is saying it would be. They are saying it's unethical for her to unilaterally make the determination of whether she is saving the child from a lifetime of abuse. We only have her word that the father is abusive. Anyone who has ever seen a custody dispute from both sides knows how unreliable a witness the parents involved can be.

empath writes "According to the state, he is not the legal father. Period. End of story."

It's not the end of the the story. The rest of the page after the first paragraph details extensively how and why to establish paternity. Especially in the states where a child can claim health insurance benefits from their estranged parent.

Ironmouth writes "Eventually, the legal advice issue is going to bite the site in the ass, hard. Been saying it for years. We need to get smart about this."

And thousands of other sites. But considering it hasn't bit thousands of sites on the ass yet I'm thinking a change in law or something will be required before that happens.
posted by Mitheral at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is crazy. Can anyone cite any law anywhere in the US (see empath's link above) that states that any woman must legally inform an estranged partner of a pregnancy? If so, cite it, rather than arguing absurd hypotheticals or just gainsaying.

What is being ignored is the effect of not informing him on other issues--custody, child support, etc. What are these effects? We do not know. Do you? For a fact? The answer is no. She nees our help not our speculation.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2011


Why am I picturing the poor 20 year old reading this post now, feeling like crap, and in the middle?

I think we should drop the whole thing. She asked a question, people gave opinions, she at least has her mom's support to help raise the child, the rest is up to her and her legal/moral decision.

It's none of our concern nor is it our place to judge her and others in this thread.

Anon--you have my support no matter what you choose. Do what you feel right, nothing illegal to bite you, and be happy. Enjoy your baby.
posted by stormpooper at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is being ignored is the effect of not informing him on other issues--custody, child support, etc. What are these effects? We do not know. Do you? For a fact? The answer is no. She nees our help not our speculation.

We are merely talking about whether she is obligated under the law to inform the father, as was stated by the OP and repeated multiple times by him. She is not.

Whether it's a good idea to inform the father under the law or not is entirely another matter.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear, it's absolutely true that a lawyer is the best source of advice when you're trying to figure out your strategy in negotiating family law, which is complex. Do you want support? Do you want a court to intervene? Do you want to mediate a custody arrangement? There are numerous questions and a lawyer is qualified to guide you through unseen pitfalls and figure out the best solution.

THAT SAID, this thread started with the statement "It's illegal - although odds of prosecution are low"

It's not illegal. It's not mefi-malpractice to say so. You do not have to be a lawyer to point that out.
posted by prefpara at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seriously, not every life event is an occasion for silence while the asker humbly seeks the counsel of Wise Lawyers.

What a person can do when faced with the birth of a child and that person's concerns about the legal aspects of what she can do in regards to her unborn child and that child's contact with the putative father most definitely is, because that regulated by the law.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2011


What is being ignored is the effect of not informing him on other issues--custody, child support, etc. What are these effects? We do not know. Do you? For a fact? The answer is no. She needs our help not our speculation.

We are merely talking about whether she is obligated under the law to inform the father, as was stated by the OP and repeated multiple times by him. She is not.

Whether it's a good idea to inform the father under the law or not is entirely another matter.


This is why she needs legal advice, now. Just throwing a one-off (It's OK) without thinking about the consequences isn't helpful.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:59 AM on July 15, 2011


I am also unashamed of my advice. I think the worst possible evil is involving this guy in her and the baby's life. They've already been engaged once before and he wants her back again, it seems likely to me that under the circumstances he'd REALLY SUPER PRESSURE HER to get married. And she might cave in. Happy Family is probably not an option here. "Father's rights" or no, I think the worst outcome is providing a child with a daddy who's an abusive fuckwit and heavily involved in its life.

This is not a case of a guy who's drinking and partying and might shape up later. This is a case of an abuser. They rarely change.

I don't care about his rights. I care about his kid's right to a non-fucked-up life. I care about the mom's right to a non-fucked up life. Both of which go away the second this guy knows.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is why she needs legal advice, now.

And numerous people in the thread are rightly pointing the anonymous young lady in that direction. Which is what people always do in AskMe when there's even a whiff of a legal matter in the question. What's the problem here? And if there is a problem, as I asked upthread, what's the practical solution thereto?
posted by Gator at 12:03 PM on July 15, 2011


In the event the ask OP is reading this a) Good luck sorting this out and b) I'm sorry the author of this post (unintentionally, perhaps) used your predicament to go to town on an issue, as opposed to say, making a post on the blue why people in your situation who choose to not tell the father have made a bad choice.

But I really hope she's not reading this thread. Because damn.
posted by angrycat at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


woman must legally inform an estranged partner of a pregnancy? If so, cite it, rather than arguing absurd hypotheticals or just gainsaying.

You don't know that there isn't ?

However, depending on the circumstances, she could face sanction for doing it though. It would almost certainly be a civil action, and even then, courts tend to be lenient - but still. Her inaction could and almost certainly will, be used against her.

The proper way to dispose of a parent you don't want around is action in family court.

Unilateral action by one parent against another parent is opening a legal can of worms that may be far more trouble than it was worth. Just walking away and pretending the other parent doesn't exist will risk exposure to a legal liability. Nobody has stated so far that this is not the case.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2011


MeFi Case Reporter says:
"I generally trust the community to call bullshit on bullshit in AskMe. As I understand bullshit, they usually don't let me down. Which is good, because I am busy and am not always there to call it out myself." (Jessamyn, in http://metatalk.metafilter.com/20219/Acupuncture-for-a-medical-question, 2011).

Because the mods aren't experts on every subject, the appropriate remedy for bad advice on AxeMe is to refute it in-thread.
posted by norm at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "woman must legally inform an estranged partner of a pregnancy? If so, cite it, rather than arguing absurd hypotheticals or just gainsaying.

You don't know that there isn't ?
"

One cannot prove a negative.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her inaction could and almost certainly will, be used against her.

[CITATION PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR AND A CHERRY ON TOP]
posted by Gator at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


By the way, Pogo F., this is in part why I think that your treatment of the OP is exploitative and lazy. Because if you had strong opinions about this, you should have a) left a response in the thread and b) put together a metafilter post on the blue. This way you get a big discussion (and I know it's probably not going well for your cause) with no effort. To repeat: Lazy, exploitative, bullying.
posted by angrycat at 12:07 PM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


One cannot prove a negative.

Arrow's sort-of-Nobel says otherwise.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:07 PM on July 15, 2011


You don't know that there isn't ? "

One cannot prove a negative.


You could certainly prove no such law exists, but it would take a lot of reading and is an entirely unreasonable request in this case.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:08 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Father's rights" or no, I think the worst outcome is providing a child with a daddy who's an abusive fuckwit and heavily involved in its life.

Unfortunately, the law and society disagrees with you on this point.

There are ways through which a parent can be separated from their children. Maybe he's terrible, maybe he's not - but it is considered a fundamental right of parents to be involved in their children's lives.

If she really feels that he shouldn't be in the kids life, she should use those resources to accomplish that goal. If she does not do that, it could backfire on her.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:08 PM on July 15, 2011


This entire conversation is insanely backwards. Pogo_Fuzzybutt is the one who gave bad legal advice on the Internet in incorrectly asserting the father has rights he doesn't necessarily have. He compounded that error by creating this MetaTalk which incorrectly asserts that not notifying a father of paternity is illegal. Ironmouth's worries about bad legal advice on the Internet flow against Pogo_Fuzzybutt, not in his favor.

In any event, AskMe will be completely useless if the answer to every question is "consult a professional" on the grounds that something unlikely, unprecedented, or otherwise really weird could happen and a professional will be useful if it does. The OP asked for advice on how to approach a difficult situation -- that advice can include "consult a professional," as the thread in fact does, but it doesn't have to be limited to that and that alone.
posted by gerryblog at 12:10 PM on July 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


You don't know that there isn't
Seriously? Thats your response? If you think there is, the onus is on you to prove it. Also, it seems odd you are still holding onto and debating this when you said earlier in the thread that it WASN'T the whole point of this call-out and it may have been a mistake.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2011


Unfortunately, the law and society disagrees with you on this point.

Personally, I'm done giving serious consideration to your wishful thinking about what the law says, stated as fact.
posted by grouse at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Unfortunately, the law and society disagrees with you on this point.

Your evidence for this claim is, as best as I can tell, "You don't know that there isn't?" You are the one who is giving unsourced, bad legal advice right now. Take your own advice.
posted by gerryblog at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2011


Maybe he's terrible, maybe he's not - but it is considered a fundamental right of parents to be involved in their children's lives.

Pogo, just going off what has been posted in this thread, you have not been able to rebut:

Paternity establishment is the process of determining the legal father of a child. Every child has a biological father, but if the parents are not married, the child has no legal father, and the biological father has no rights or responsibilities to the child. In order for the biological father to be the legal father, the parents must establish paternity for the child.

The father will not have any fundamental rights as a parent until he is recognized as a parent.

/not lawyer, neither are you.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What irks me is that Pogo isn't totally wrong. Family courts do strongly discourage either parent from alienating children from the other parent. Except that scenario is so far removed from what the immediate issue is for this OP. She's trying to decide what to do right now, in the moment of discovery of the pregnancy. She has not even given birth yet. That the father might decide to establish his paternity at some future point and might then seek custody and visitation and god knows what else is absolutely true, is something she needs to consider, and is something an attorney knows most about.

But in the moment, the most important facts seem to be these:
1. there is no criminal liability for keeping her pregnancy a secret
2. she is afraid that the father will exert extreme pressure on her to abort, which is an issue right now, not a potential problem she might face in a year

The only bad legal advice on this issue has come from Pogo.
posted by prefpara at 12:13 PM on July 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


pogo:
a) Are you a lawyer
b) If yes why are you not citing relevant law
c) If no DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE what the law is.
posted by angrycat at 12:13 PM on July 15, 2011


If she really feels that he shouldn't be in the kids life, she should use those resources to accomplish that goal. If she does not do that, it could backfire on her.

Please post this in the thread and consider walking away from this at this point, at least for a few hours. You left a comment in the original thread, you've said your piece here, if this thread turns into you arguing with everyone, we're going to close it up and tell people to just email you.

To repeat: Lazy, exploitative, bullying.

This level of vitriol is not helpful and not necessary.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


"... it is considered a fundamental right of parents to be involved in their children's lives."

Er, no, it's not.

It's definitely not a right in the United States, as the group "Parental Rights" affirms, in its' work to add those kinds of rights to the Constitution. OP, maybe you should get involved in this group. It sounds like their views match your own closely!
posted by juniperesque at 12:27 PM on July 15, 2011


However, depending on the circumstances, she could face sanction for doing it though. It would almost certainly be a civil action, and even then, courts tend to be lenient - but still. Her inaction could and almost certainly will, be used against her.

The proper way to dispose of a parent you don't want around is action in family court.

Unilateral action by one parent against another parent is opening a legal can of worms that may be far more trouble than it was worth. Just walking away and pretending the other parent doesn't exist will risk exposure to a legal liability. Nobody has stated so far that this is not the case.


I don't know how many times I can tell you this, but he is not the legal parent of the child, according to the state of new york. All of what you say has no application to her case unless and until paternity is established.

There is no 'one parent vs another parent'. The child has one legal parent, period. There is no legal father of the child. He has no rights to the child. He has no responsibilities for the child.

He is not the legal father of the child, and will not be until paternity is established. If the mother and father don't voluntarily establish paternity, then he is not the father. If he wants to establish paternity over the wishes of the mother, he'll have to take it to court.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


jessamyn, I apologize for my choice of words, and I do so knowing from experience I lack a diplomacy gene, especially when I become angry, as this thread has made me.

But I don't understand if there is an objection to the substance of what I was saying. I am trying to describe what I see in this thread -- and have seen in other threads in metatalk -- that doing metatalk about 'bad advice' in askmes affords the creator of said metatalk threads to raise flags in support of his or her cause. I see this as exploitative of posters of sensitive questions, in that the metatalk poster is using the posters misfortune/difficulties/obstacles as a means to advance his or her opinion, outside of the askme thread. This seems to me to be an icky thing to do -- to employ somebody's plight to advocate for a broader cause one supports. Aside from the fighty blow back in the metatalk thread, I do not see how the executor of this act (i.e., the poster of the metatalk) is held accountable for such an act.

I think that the proper thing to do, aside from the askme advice, is to propagate one's views with a metafilter post that can stand the scrutiny that comes with posts to the blue. A much different level of scrutiny applies to metatalk threads, seemingly, and I can think of many good reasons of why the different standards exist.

I am trying to come up with a word that is much better -- much less vitriolic -- than exploitative. But I am not coming up with a word that is better suited in its specificity to such a situation -- where a member is taking advantages of the different standards to make a case for which he or she is profoundly unqualified to make.

But again, my apologies for not choosing my language with more care -- although I guess if I had to express this point again I just wouldn't, because I am not sure how to better express it.
posted by angrycat at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't we just talk about this? It's much better of a topic.
posted by stormpooper at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my opinion if she's going to keep the baby she should tell the guy. She said he was a crappy partner to her but did not say anything about his relationship with his present child. Being a crappy partner does not always equal being a crappy parent. I have personal experience with seeing a terrible partner but an unusually good parent.
posted by ThomasBrobber at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2011


Boy, I hope no-one advocating hiding parentage from the kid in ask was over in the thread about anonymous sperm donations arguing the opposite. I also look forward to seeing a number of mefites arguing in favour of child abduction cases when the Dad claims the mother is a bad person for his kid to be around.

The formal legal processes are imprefect, but they tend to be a great deal better than parental vigilantism, as anyone thinking about cases that don't press your personal "You go, girl" buttons.
posted by rodgerd at 12:42 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


angrycat writes "I'm sorry the author of this post (unintentionally, perhaps) used your predicament to go to town on an issue, as opposed to say, making a post on the blue why people in your situation who choose to not tell the father have made a bad choice."

The blue is not for axe grindy lecturing.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Says you!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2011


I also look forward to seeing a number of mefites arguing in favour of child abduction cases when the Dad claims the mother is a bad person for his kid to be around.

The two are utterly different. Child abduction is what happens when one legal parent prevents (by secretly moving somewhere else with the kid, for example) the other legal parent from said kid. There is only one legal parent so far in this particular case - the mother - as paternity has not been established.
posted by rtha at 12:49 PM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yes, this is my argument, which I will try to make as respectfully as possible, as I realize, for a variety of reasons, my language is incendiary at times.

Should users be able to use metatalk when a) there is a metafilter question involved and b) the position of the metatalk user is without a basis in expertise; nor does the user link to sources of expertise?

Such an ax-grindy post would be deleted on the blue, I'm supposing, not knowing the ins and outs of deletion standards. Should metatalk be a substitute forum for such ax-grindy post?

We're creating an internet artifact with this thread, no? It is a thing of unknowable impact. The OP of the ask may be reading it and making certain choices based upon it. Another user, in another situation, may happen upon this post. People will remember it.

It just seems such metatalk threads are, in and of themselves, problematic. I apologize if I am over-explaining or not explaining well.
posted by angrycat at 12:53 PM on July 15, 2011


I have an update from the OP:
Just to clarify, I've never considered not ever telling my ex about the pregnancy. I feel that he inevitably has the right to know, however the idea of confronting him while I know I'm still vulnerable to his influence is not appealing to me. This is not criminal behavior.

I asked to know what legal parameters, if any, follows whether he chooses to support the child or not; whether it's child support or legally exempting him of parental obligations. I plan to see a professional about that specifically. I obviously won't know which route to take until this conversation happens, but I would like to be prepared either way. In any case, given the nature my past experiences with him this conversion will happen at my convenience, not his.
posted by phunniemee at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


The other point is this. We have very few facts. We don't even know what the most important facts are for the legal issue in question. I have contributed my part to the question, which is to advise that she take no advice there and to give her links to several options for legal services which can provide her with the advice she will need.

The decisions she makes now will have a profound effect on her life. Getting the advice of a lawyer will help her effectuate her will when it comes to the child. More important is the key idea that decisions now will have an impact on the future which must be considered. These are things that legal counsel will provide. It is important we encourage her to get all the help she needs.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:55 PM on July 15, 2011


There is only one legal parent so far in this particular case - the mother - as paternity has not been established.

There are zero legal parents because there are, as yet, zero children.
posted by enn at 12:55 PM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're creating an internet artifact with this thread, no? It is a thing of unknowable impact.

Listen to yourself.
posted by enn at 12:56 PM on July 15, 2011


Listen to yourself

Sorry, not getting you. Everything post my apology for blowing up in the thread and using overheated language was trying to articulate a particular weakness of the site, with all due respect to its creators. Obviously I see it as deleterious or I wouldn't bring it up. If I am being over the top with explaining, or what, I'm not understanding.
posted by angrycat at 12:59 PM on July 15, 2011


I'm pretty sure metafilter does not face liability for the bad legal advice users give on the site

This is not legal advice to metafilter
posted by J. Wilson at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The formal legal processes are imprefect, but they tend to be a great deal better than parental vigilantism

I think the point many are making is that there's nothing inherently illegal about a mother-to-be not notifying the person who she thinks is the biological father of the unborn fetus. If there was a formal legal process around notifying the suspected father of an in-progress pregnancy then there would be laws what must be done in those situations. Unlike your example of abducting a child from their legally recognized parent, which is clearly not even close to the same thing.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:11 PM on July 15, 2011


It's definitely not a right in the United States, as the group "Parental Rights" affirms, in its' work to add those kinds of rights to the Constitution. OP, maybe you should get involved in this group. It sounds like their views match your own closely!

That would be somewhat correct if Pogo_Fuzzybut had written "constitutional right," but in general, this is not how rights work in the United States. See the ninth amendement.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2011


I get up in the morning and go into the bathroom - and it starts with my opening my eyes. But wait - doesn't that prove that I'm now awake, and conscious, and that my legal position is different than if I were asleep? Whenever legal issues can be involved, please consult a lawyer, it's the only responsible thing to do. That's why I keep a lawyer on retainer - he grabs ahold of my hand the moment I wake up in the morning and open my eyes. And, even if I don't feel any aches or pains at the moment, doesn't mean I can't have some kind of medical condition. Whenever medical issues are involved, please consult a qualified physician, it's the only responsible thing to do. That's why I have a personal physician on call at all times - and the moment I open my eyes in the morning, the physician grabs my other hand. But what's this? Can I be sure that the alarm clock is accurate and I'm getting up on time and not late, which may have not only implications for my job, but can involve the law or medical issues if I had to take medication at a given time - and since my clock is plugged into the outlet, I always have my outlets checked out by a qualified and bonded and licensed electrician - please don't try to do any of this on your own, only professionals are involved that's the only responsible thing to do. That's why I have a qualified electrician on standby to take care of all electrical issues in the house, none of this self-repair nonsense, because that in turn can involve the LAWYER and the DOCTOR, so the moment I open my eyes, a qualified electrician grabs my foot and nods an acknowledgment to the LAYWER and the DOCTOR and they return it in a series of nods. But wait, there's another man grabbing my other foot - I already forgot what his profession is, I only know that it would be highly irresponsible to not involve a professional, and he's nodding to the other PROFESSIONALS and another wave of nods washes over my bedroom - but wait there are so many more people in this room - ALL PROFESSIONALS! And there is not enough of room on my body, so the LAWYER has to satisfy himself with holding my pinky while another PROFESSIONAL is holding my index finger and so for every finger there is an attached PROFESSIONAL, and so for all my toes, and both elbows, and neck and ears and nose and lips and the room is STUFFED to the RAFTERS - I CAN'T BREATH, all the oxygen is being sucked out, I can't move... we've gotta move the whole operation outside, otherwise all the professionals attached to my body and then to each other as backup and consultants to the consultants in an endless human centipede and now it fills the whole stadium where in the middle I lie, tiny, invisible...

and then I woke up, hand still on the mouse, open Meta thread on the computer. I should never eat anything sweet with the lunch while reading Metafilter, cause I might fall asleep and start dreaming some nightmare.

I walked up to the window - hey, people are walking around freely... even laughing! Where are all the professionals attached to them in an endless web of dependencies to make sure only serious and responsible stuff happens? And why are they laughing and having fun? Don't they know there are serious consequences to not consulting a qualified professional?
posted by VikingSword at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


"Thanks. Quoting this to underline the fact: Pogo_Fuzzybutt is flatly wrong."

Can we please not do this? Ever?

Its metatalks like this that remind me that the difference between us and the rest of the internet is not our sparkling personalities but the constant debridement of the blue and green. WTF koeselitz?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


VikingSword, it sounds to me like you are suffering from an acute case of the cribby wibbles.
posted by elizardbits at 1:22 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


constant debridement of the blue and green.

Debridement is the "the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue" so I don't know what that means. I suspect you meant a different word, but I don't know which one.
posted by grouse at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have an update from the OP:

Please do not update both threads. This thread is not the AskMe thread. People can go there if they want to follow that question.

angrycat, I get what you are saying but at some level that's way outside the topic of this thread. Thread creep is inevitable but I feel like we have our own Godwin-type thing here which is that the longer a MeTa thread goes, the chance of someone claiming someone else is bullying someone approaches 1 in 1.

I get why you're upset, and I get your larger point about people using other people's AskMes as a chance to drive home their own points but at some level people who start AskMe threads know that this is a risk [the OP in this one certainly did because I told her] and this is just what happens. We can't spend our time worrying that taking a tough love approach to a question and the advice given is going to wreck someone's day. We'll try to keep people from being out-and-out assholes, but MeTa participation is 100% voluntary. If you want to talk about what is and isn't okay to do in MeTa that's really a pretty tangential issue to the one here, and one that I would please implore you, if you decide to open a new MeTa thread about, you wait until after the weekend.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:28 PM on July 15, 2011


But wait - doesn't that prove that I'm now awake, and conscious, and that my legal position is different than if I were asleep? Whenever legal issues can be involved, please consult a lawyer, it's the only responsible thing to do. That's why I keep a lawyer on retainer - he grabs ahold of my hand the moment I wake up in the morning and open my eyes.

This is the birth of a child and involves paternity, child support and other issues, all issues covered extensively by law, and issues that will affect a child--issues where decisions now may make a huge difference in the rights of the parties and the raising of a child. This is not the same as you waking up in the morning--it is about the welfare of a child. Those things are Important with a capital "I" and we do the OP no service by acting as if this isn't a matter where she would be well served in finding out her rights and responsibilities.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, why do you keep repeating that over and over as if a dozen other people hadn't already told the OP to talk to a lawyer before you ever showed up in the thread? Because a ton of people told her to talk to a lawyer. Nobody, unless it was deleted, told her not to bother with a lawyer. Nobody told her not to worry about the legal issues. Nobody told her it was no big deal and who needs those lawyerjerks anyway. Nobody claimed, here or there, that there were no legal ramifications to her situation, did they?
posted by Gator at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


jessamyn, thank you for the explanation, and I think I get where you're coming from.
I get your point about the tangential issue, and if I do create a metatalk thread regarding it I will wait a good long time (meaning weeks) to ponder on it and perhaps emails mods with ideas, if I have any, prior to making another metatalk thread.
posted by angrycat at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2011


Ironmouth, I hear you, no problem, my lawyer is on it this very moment, looking to see what the legal implications are of what I wrote, because I wrote that in a thread that involves serious legal issues as you've explained, and I quote: "all issues covered extensively by law", therefore the importance of what I wrote from a legal point of view should not be underestimated and it is a SERIOUS, SERIOUS matter a LEGAL matter, and only a qualified LAWYER can say what the implications are; so he briefly let go of my hand, but only to activate his cell phone so he can call the office for backup and research - now a whole team of lawyers is involved. And that team is consulting with other teams. And this endless chain is spreading like giant wave touching all lawyers... HEY, IRONMOUTH, THERE'S A KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR - I think it might be that the consultant wave has reached you! Serious. Legal. Qualified. Your Honor, I rest my case. Or not.
posted by VikingSword at 1:39 PM on July 15, 2011


Ironmouth, why do you keep repeating that over and over as if a dozen other people hadn't already told the OP to talk to a lawyer before you ever showed up in the thread?

I think in this case he repeated his point because it is being energetically mocked.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this horse dead enough already? Can we hand the sticks back in?
posted by edgeways at 1:50 PM on July 15, 2011


furiousxgeorge: "Ironmouth, why do you keep repeating that over and over as if a dozen other people hadn't already told the OP to talk to a lawyer before you ever showed up in the thread?

I think in this case he repeated his point because it is being energetically mocked.
"

Which is what happens every time the "Metafilter is placed in legal jeopardy by giving out non-professional legal/medical/whatever advice" meme comes up.

I could be wrong here, but I believe past threads have mentioned that Matt has consulted his lawyers (professional legal advice!) on this very point, and they've evidently told him not to worry about it too much. If so, I'm not sure why we keep discussing it. Maybe we need something in the FAQ.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:55 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy, I hope no-one advocating hiding parentage from the kid in ask was over in the thread about anonymous sperm donations arguing the opposite.

What a weird thing to bring up, but I can say that I don't advocate hiding a child's parentage from them in general, and that includes this scenario.

Of course, hiding a child's parentage from them is not necessarily the same thing as hiding a child from their other parent, and hiding a pregnancy from the other potential parent is yet another issue.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2011


The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant. There's a few confusing words about it in her file, which she never checks out.

Is it legal for the husband to not inform the wife that she has a child? What cases can you show otherwise?


I can cite a case: In re Baby M. The law recognizes a high bar for separating a child from his/her birth mother. Certainly there is far more protection for the rights of birth mothers as there is for biological fathers (compare the treatment of surrogacy contracts in Baby M with the validity of sperm donor contracts). This is how we could easily distinguish the two cases. In your hypo, the woman carried the child for nine months, something that the biological father in this case did not do.

A harder hypo would be a woman who was inseminated, immediately fell into a coma, had a procedure done to remove the zygote from her and it was implanted into another woman. That woman died in childbirth and the biological father kept the child. In that case, could the father not tell the mother? My guess is you can still distinguish it based on the needed technological intervention, but at the least the parties are actually in reversed situations.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:28 PM on July 15, 2011


We're creating an internet artifact with this thread, no?

A cute little Internet artifact of our very own! Quick - someone get a lawyer to tell us what the ramifications are.

I sure hope my making this comment doesn't mean I have to start paying artifact support.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:29 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gator: "P_F, I know you're taking this personally because of your personal history with these issues. Even a cursory glance at your AskMe contributions makes this obvious."

Gator, please don't do that. If Pogo_Fuzzybutt has a personal situation he wants to bring up, he's perfectly able to do it himself. Empress already said, 'hey, you sound pretty emotionally invested in this, maybe you should step away from the thread'. That's appropriate. Your dragging his specific history into the thread is not.

angrycat, I have absolutely no idea why you think this is suitable for the blue, and honestly I find your fightiness really distracting. Pogo_Fuzzybutt followed the right channels here, and you can disagree with his perspective absolutely, but the grey is where we hash this stuff out, and no one is insulting or hurting the OP by bringing this up in Metatalk.
posted by misha at 2:34 PM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're creating an internet artifact with this thread, no? It is a thing of unknowable impact.

People are yelling at one another about legal matters they presumable know/do not know about, with enough vehemence to well cancel out any and all actual guidance they're trying to impart

...we're not exactly crafting the One Ring here, folks.
posted by griphus at 2:34 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if we were, who would you nominate for Sauron and why?
posted by elizardbits at 2:49 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


misha: P_F brought up his personal history with situations like this in the Ask thread in question.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:50 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


elizardbits, we all know you're thinking jessamyn's star looks kinda like sauron's eye.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:52 PM on July 15, 2011


Ironmouth, why do you keep repeating that over and over as if a dozen other people hadn't already told the OP to talk to a lawyer before you ever showed up in the thread?

Gator, you're being kinda obnoxious. Please consider giving it a rest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


who would you nominate for Sauron and why?

eyeballkid.
posted by grouse at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


how is cortex babby formed?
posted by klangklangston at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex babby made in minecraft, duh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:18 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


But if we were, who would you nominate for Sauron and why?

charlie sheen
posted by pyramid termite at 3:57 PM on July 15, 2011


Goatse is our generation's Sauron.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:11 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just knowing that we have a MeFi user named Pogo_Fuzzybutt was what made this thread win enough for me.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:19 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or do the most inflammatory threads on this here thing inevitably start on weekends?

Mods, you need a Friday night bouncer, I think.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a lawyer, and I've done a little family law/custody work. I'm waiting eagerly for ANYONE to cite a case making it illegal to withhold information on the birth of the child from a putative father. Not gonna hold my breath, because I'm pretty damn certain that THERE IS NO SUCH LAW, ANYWHERE IN THE US.
posted by jayder at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mods, you need a Friday night bouncer, I think.

Or more gin. Y'know, either/or...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:22 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mods, you need a Friday night bouncer, I think.

What do you think restless_nomad does?!

At some point, in the future if we decide to turn MeTa into a pre-moderated part of the site (no plans at all to do this, but it crosses our minds sometimes) we will point to some of the truly awful late-night weekend MeTa threads (this one does not qualify) and no one could possibly blame us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:39 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the husband would run into trouble trying to explain where he got the baby from long before the coma was done.

Regardless, he's got an appointment with the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique somewhere down the road.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Phunniemee, thank you so much for the update, and by extension, thanks to the OP too.

OP (of the question, not this MeTa), I'm really, really pulling for you and you can MeMail me if you want some further (NON-LEGAL) advice and support. I've actually sort of been in your position - different particulars, same general circumstance.

Cortex's baby was made by the Elves, unless of course it is the One Baby, in which case we must form a fellowship that includes Sean Bean.

Sean Bean will then die to save the rest of us.

Win/win.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 8:10 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Glad the OP is the most reasonable one of the group. Even at 20, she could have listened to her own instincts as opposed to much of the advice here and in her original post. (but she would have lost out on the entertainment value...)
posted by Vaike at 8:35 PM on July 15, 2011


if we decide to turn MeTa into a pre-moderated part of the site

This doesn't sound like a good idea. One of the troublesome pluses of Metatalk is that anything can be brought up by anyone. If it's crazy or grary yes that can be a headache for y'all but the benefit is that the crazy or grary is seen for what it is. I would prefer a firmer hand in closing threads and timeouts for those who pull bs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:42 PM on July 15, 2011


[Folks, AGAIN, let's please not do the speculation-about-Anonymous's-identity thing, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:05 PM on July 15, 2011


I thought that said "crazy or gravy" and I thought I would very much like some gravy.
posted by desjardins at 9:12 PM on July 15, 2011


The legal/illegal thing is something that everyone latched onto, and I should have been better prepared for that, but well, live and learn.

Everyone latched on to it because you referenced it over and over, in nearly all of your comments in this thread.
posted by desuetude at 9:12 PM on July 15, 2011


Hrm. I said some really obnoxious stuff unthread. Blasdelb is right (though I don't get the debridement thing either) - it's not really cool for me to sit here and loudly proclaim that someone else is "flatly wrong" when (a) their rightness isn't even the issue being discussed and (b) that is hands-down the worst way to discuss rightness or wrongness about anything anyway.

Sorry, Pogo_Fuzzybutt. I accused you of projecting - geez, I must clearly have been projecting some anxiety onto this thread to treat you like that. That was crude, it dragged down the conversation, and I wish I hadn't done it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:43 PM on July 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


The woman goes into a 10 year coma, the guy abandons her, takes the kid to another state, she wakes up with amnesia and has no idea she was even pregnant.

Girlfriend in a comma, you know - it's really serious.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:35 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a lawyer, and I've done a little family law/custody work. I'm waiting eagerly for ANYONE to cite a case making it illegal to withhold information on the birth of the child from a putative father. Not gonna hold my breath, because I'm pretty damn certain that THERE IS NO SUCH LAW, ANYWHERE IN THE US.


From here
:
It is not a good idea to hide the child from the other parent even if there is no custody order. If you do this, the other parent could use it against you in a custody suit. The other parent could also apply for custody and have the child taken from you.*
It is bad advice to tell a woman to just take the kid and run. She almost certainly will be made to pay for that if the guy has a halfway decent lawyer and a gumption to do so.

It is better in all cases to let the bad parent be bad, document the badness, and let the court system deal with them. There exists a system, encourage them to use it.

I am absolutely certain that custodial parents screw over non-custodial parents all of the time in ways like this and get away with it - for a number of reasons. I am not, however, certain that they do this without risk of repercussion should the non-custodial parent choose to make a deal out of it and find someone willing and able to help them. It is not a risk free action.

I'm not saying it is illegal in a "kick the doors in and haul you to Guantanamo" way. I am saying it is illegal in a "someone can use this against you in court and get custody" way.

To say otherwise runs contrary to my experience, and it runs contrary to prevailing legal opinion from the lawyers that I (have/am/will) worked with. Every lawyer I know will tell you to give the other parent all the rope they need and let them hang themselves - but for the love of god, don't interfere.

I'm not trying to be a douche here. I really want to help the Asker and others like them in similar situations. I want to help Askme service these needs better. I have observed this as as a weakness in this and other Askmes. Family law is complex, and fairly unforgiving, and a badly advised decision in child custody cases can be hell to unravel and fix later - if not impossible. It seems to me that this part of Askme can be improved upon.

Askers in Family Law situations should not be told that the non-custodial parents rights are unimportant. That is my point.**


Beyond my wish to help improve the throughput of Askme, which is an excellent (in my eyes, anyway) resource, I don't have a dog in the race. Tell him or don't, I don't really care. The Asker can marry the Queen of England, it doesn't matter to me. Furthermore, I don't need validation for the choices, good and bad, I have made in my own family law experience - I am a fine human being, mostly, and a reasonable parent, mostly, and anyway, a bunch of Mefites won't convince me otherwise. This isn't personal. I just want to help.

I think this is my last post on this. Probably. Maybe.


* As it happens, I am acquainted with a gentlemen who found out after 8 years that he had a child. She sued him for back child support. During the course of the matter, it came to light that she went to some length to conceal the child from him and long story short, he got custody. Still had to pay some back child support though. I tried to find the case records on CCAP but it looks like they are not public record. Anyway, the kid - he died in a motorcycle accident 4-5 years ago. It's a dumb world sometimes.

** you can argue that the place for this discussion was in the ask thread, and I disagree given the vitriol expressed here. Certainly the asker is free to ignore good advice as well as bad and I agree, and I expressed my opinion there. That is not the place to belabor the point I am trying to make; Askme does have hard and soft requirements on the quality of the answers. We should consider a higher standard for family law questions. I think it's more important than "should I get a Mac or a Dell?". If the community agrees - and it seems to - that I am off my rocker, that is fine.

However, I still assert that you are doing parents of either gender no favor at all by making custody issues more contentious than they already are. Parents, especially those who dislike each other and have a history of disagreement and poor behavior, need to learn to come together. I agree, this is secondary to safety - that should go without saying. Fact is - Telling one parent that driving the other away is a viable and even desirable option is deleterious to children and parents both. Only the courts can determine that and even then it's not a goal to be pursued - it's a worst case scenario. I am very sorry we disagree on this point.

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:22 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Debridement is the "the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue" so I don't know what that means. I suspect you meant a different word, but I don't know which one."

If you ever get the honor of watching a debridement procedure performed, the "surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue" is exactly what comes to mind when I think of what the mods have to do to some threads.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Until the child is outside of her body, it is solely her business. I know that's not ideal, but the situation they are in is also not ideal. I'm sorry, PF, but your experience is colouring your response and you're building a case on an AskMe that doesn't support your position very well. If she chooses to carry to delivery, it may be humane to let him know (eventually), but it's also still just her business (even per the law).

Pregnancy is hard enough as it is without also having to navigate the landmines of a relationship that didn't end amicably. Deciding what to do with an entire other person's potential existence is also difficult enough already without being influenced in one direction or another. She needs to make a complex analysis of her entire remaining years on this planet (potentially 3x what she's lived so far!) without fear of being pushed, goaded, guilted, or threatened. If she feels he will do any or all of those things, it is likely best if she leaves him out of the loop at least until she knows her own mind on the issue and has committed herself to a particular path.

Again, in an ideal world they would have had a relationship or an end to same wherein she wasn't left with fear of his response as baggage. While you're correct that one of the results of a sexual relationship is producing a child with someone you now find distasteful, that doesn't mean one has to raise that child with that person's involvement. Either way, he apparently behaved in such a way that fear is an element of their history, so he gets to bear the weight of that consequence. In this case, he may well get no say in whether or not this pregnancy continues and may not even be given the opportunity to participate in his child's life if it does.

Sorry to see you bulldogging this assertion so vehemently, PF. You're off base, here, and it's kind of a sad spectacle.
posted by batmonkey at 2:47 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybut: There's no rule against giving bad advice in AskMe.
posted by chmmr at 2:51 AM on July 16, 2011

Until the child is outside of her body, it is solely her business. I know that's not ideal, but the situation they are in is also not ideal. I'm sorry, PF, but your experience is colouring your response and you're building a case on an AskMe that doesn't support your position very well. If she chooses to carry to delivery, it may be humane to let him know (eventually), but it's also still just her business (even per the law).
While we're calling out legal untruths in here, let me do so with this claim (assuming the US, usual disclaimers apply). The Roe framework is that the right to privacy means that in the first trimester regulation by the government are off the table; in the second and third trimester greater amounts of government interest in the developing fetus are balanced against that privacy right.
posted by norm at 5:31 AM on July 16, 2011


I am saying it is illegal in a "someone can use this against you in court and get custody" way.

That is not what illegal means.
posted by desjardins at 6:06 AM on July 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


Just as an aside, when I've seen the question of pre-moderation come up, it's purely been in the "I wish we could delay this til Monday when everyone's around" vein, not "I wish this post hadn't been made." As Jessamyn says, it's not actually on the table at the moment, but I figured it was worth clarifying.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:14 AM on July 16, 2011


It is not a good idea to hide the child from the other parent even if there is no custody order. If you do this, the other parent could use it against you in a custody suit. The other parent could also apply for custody and have the child taken from you.

Assuming the authors of this website are using the statutory definitions, the word "parent" has already been defined to exclude an unmarried father unless and until an acknowledgment of paternity is signed or a paternity suit is adjudicated.

And even if the colloquial definition of "parent" is being applied here (and if it is, the authors of the website are very much at fault, since they elsewhere explain that an unmarried father is not a legal parent), it's still not illegal, meaning jayder's point still stands.
posted by palliser at 6:16 AM on July 16, 2011


I'm not saying it is illegal in a "kick the doors in and haul you to Guantanamo" way. I am saying it is illegal in a "someone can use this against you in court and get custody" way.

Illegal means against the law. Illegal means that if you do it, there will be criminal penalties. Illegal does not mean unwise, and it does not mean that you may be at a disadvantage in a possible civil suit. There are actions which have consequences in court but which are not illegal. I think your incorrect use of language has been stoking the fires a bit, because your actual argument (courts disfavor parents who prevent children from having contact with the other parent) keeps getting lost in the chorus of people who respond to your incorrect use of the word illegal.
posted by prefpara at 6:37 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Askers in Family Law situations should not be told that the non-custodial parents rights are unimportant.

He is not only not a 'non-costodial parent'. He is not a parent of the child, period, according to the state of new york.
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Illegal means that if you do it, there will be criminal penalties.

Some illegal actions can bring on civil penalties, without being criminal.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:12 AM on July 16, 2011


Debridement is the "the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue" so I don't know what that means. I suspect you meant a different word, but I don't know which one.

Despousement?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:38 AM on July 16, 2011


I agree, this is secondary to safety - that should go without saying. Fact is - Telling one parent that driving the other away is a viable and even desirable option is deleterious to children and parents both.

From the OP's account, her ex drove himself away with his abusive and manipulative behavior - he had agency in this relationship as well. From my own experience - which, being the experience of one person, does not apply to everyone in the world - having a non-custodial parent who lied and manipulated was....less than ideal. It didn't wreck my life, but it made some things about my childhood and young adulthood completely suck.
posted by rtha at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2011


Some illegal actions can bring on civil penalties, without being criminal.

I actually don't think it's accurate to call actions with only civil penalties illegal. Maybe it's a common usage elsewhere, but it's not a usage I've encountered, and it immediately strikes me as wrong.
posted by prefpara at 8:26 AM on July 16, 2011


"Tortious"
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2011


While you're correct that one of the results of a sexual relationship is producing a child with someone you now find distasteful, that doesn't mean one has to raise that child with that person's involvement.

Things like this make me cringe. My father is an absolutely horrendous, abusive spouse, but he's still my father and I resent the idea that one parent can unilaterally decide to remove the other from a child's life.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:22 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, we could all argue about this till the cows come home, but the OP has already said she will tell the presumptive father, JUST NOT TILL SHE IS SQUARED AWAY EMOTIONALLY and has a game plan.

She has a lot to think about. Besides, not to be blunt and heartless, but until she is 12 weeks along there is still the off chance she could miscarry, and if that happened, there would be no need to talk to him at all.

There is plenty of time for this man to be informed of what is going on. It does not have to be the second the second line shows up on the stick.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:51 AM on July 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Eventually, the legal advice issue is going to bite the site in the ass, hard. Been saying it for years. We need to get smart about this. Don't give legal advice on the internet.“

We've talked about this before, but I want to point this out: there is no sense in which it is illegal for non-lawyers to give bad legal advice. Lawyers themselves are responsible for the legal advice they give, and it's illegal to misrepresent yourself as a lawyer. However, us non-lawyers can give all the bad legal advice we want. Otherwise freedom of speech is abrogated about almost very subject.

It's queer to me that lawyers seem to frequently demand that the rest of us be held to standards that only they are legally bound to. I get the feeling that lawyers sometimes think we're all budding law students, and they're protecting us from some rarefied danger. The truth is much more complicated.

There is nothing wrong with discussing legal issues on the Internet.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's not illegal, but it's a bad idea in a situation that will be so thoroughly intertwined and subject to legal scrutiny until the child is of age (and possible even beyond that, depending on the agreements made).

I'm really irritated to see people mocking the idea that this is a serious legal matter. 18+ years, the lives of multiple people (including a child), and LOL silly lawyers taking this seriously how dumb!!!!
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


but he's still my father and I resent the idea that one parent can unilaterally decide to remove the other from a child's life.

On the one hand, I totally get this. On the other, I'm really glad that my mom unilaterally decided to move us to Europe when I was 10 in order to keep my dad from unilaterally deciding to not send me home from a summer visit I would have been there for. He was prepared to keep me and to fight for sole custody by lying about my mom being a heroin addict. I would not have wanted to be raised by such a person. Contact was re-established when I was 14 or 15 and capable of getting myself to an airport (and flying unaccompanied) if I needed to. It helped that my dad's nuttiness was temporary.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


koesilitz, lawyers can be held professionally accountable for acting unethically (e.g., disbarment, an extreme remedy but still) in terms of giving legal advice.

The same isn't true for non-lawyers in terms of giving legal advice.

Moreover, speaking not for Ironmouth but myself, I was curious about what tortious liability the site might expose itself to if somebody acted on some "bad legal advice" in askme and sued the site for negligence.

Pretty sure this was answered upthread.
posted by angrycat at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2011


I actually don't think it's accurate to call actions with only civil penalties illegal.

Illegal means "forbidden by law or statute." If a judge orders you to secure my things in your possession, and you don't, then you violated a legal court order. There are laws and statutes, I presume, that indicate one's need to conform to court orders. But I can't have you arrested for negligence, I can only sue you in civil court.

How about parking tickets? There are laws or statutes behind the authority to control parking, but that's a violation, not a crime.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:14 AM on July 16, 2011


norm said:
"While we're calling out legal untruths in here, let me do so with this claim (assuming the US, usual disclaimers apply)."

um. that's not where I was going with that and you took it in a weird direction.
posted by batmonkey at 10:21 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


rtha, I agree that it can get complicated and sometimes contact is unhealthy. My issue is with people assuming that the mother's desire to avoid contact is enough of a reason to cut a child off from their other parent completely.

It's never easy when a child's best interests conflict with the mother's best interests, and I think that's the case here. There's really no easy solution, and I understand that. However, I seriously dislike the way that cutting a father out of the child's life completely is recommended as an easy out, as though it would have no effect on the child.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But she has said she doesn't plan to cut him out completely. At issue right now is that she doesn't want to be bullied into having an abortion before she has a chance to work out what she wants to do.
posted by taz at 10:39 AM on July 16, 2011


This post began with the black and white claim that "it is terrible, terrible, legal advice. It's illegal..." Upon further discussion, it sounds like the situation is not that the OP is breaking the law in a criminal way, but that should the father want custody and should he hire a lawyer and should a suit ensue, the OP will have a less sympathetic position...

I often call my lawyer for The Answer, and while sometimes he has one ("30 days"), more often he wants to know what I'm trying to achieve, and then he presents options, and the risks and potential benefits each entails. Those legal risks and potential benefits I weigh against other costs, risks, and potential benefits. ("Well, strictly speaking, the law is on our side here and we could go ahead, but pragmatically, it makes sense to not mobilize crews until we know he's not going to file...")

It may be that being at a legal disadvantage should the father sue would be LESS of a problem than inviting the father in, especially now. What is the consequence of this legal disadvantage? Could it be overcome with an extra hearing and an extra $2000 in legal fees? I have no idea; that's the kind of info that would be helpful. How does that impact compare to the likelihood and possible impact of telling him? I doubt this would happen, but suppose he is so abusive that she has to move to another state and go into hiding. That would have serious financial, emotional, and pragmatic consequences. If she has the leeway not to tell, or not to tell now, she should know that so she can weigh it against other likelihoods of this sort.

We should not hide options by oversimplifying the law. If she has leeway for weighing costs and impacts, she should know it. Following the law in its most conservative interpretation and even applying it when it doesn't apply (by prematurely deeming him a parent) are not always the best course of action. I'm not saying "break the law" (don't break the law) but "know what your options are under the law, then make the best choice for you within the full range of options it allows."

I would evaluate the moral/ethical arguments, e.g., the young rope-rider's, separately from the legalities and pragmatics. Sometimes the right thing to do is the hard thing; sometimes doing the right thing means taking one legal pathway rather than another. Claiming there is only one legal pathway would shut down the discussion that rtha and the young rope-rider are having about the emotional and moral consequences. It also has distracted from it (the "latching on"). Since the OP may very well have multiple options, legally, she should think about what she really wants to do, deep down, and then she could check that analysis with a lawyer. (IANAL.) But oversimplifying this situation, especially inaccurately, seems profoundly unhelpful on many levels.

tl;dr Let's not pretend the law is more simple than it is or that it alone can entirely determine the best course of action. An OP in her situation needs to know all her options.
posted by slidell at 10:55 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's never easy when a child's best interests conflict with the mother's best interests, and I think that's the case here.

It *may* be the case here. We are not in any kind of position to determine what is in this future child's best interests. It's possible that this guy is one of those people who is a terrible, terrible partner but a pretty decent parent. We have no information about what kind of relationship he has with his existing kid - it could be a pretty good and healthy one, or it could be the kind of relationship that brings a lot of stress and doubt ("why doesn't daddy ever want to visit me?") to that kid's life. It's not a given that the OP's interests and those of her future child are in conflict. She's in a better position to figure that out than we are, and we shouldn't make assumptions either way.
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not trying to be a douche here. I really want to help the Asker and others like them in similar situations.

I find your position pretty bizarre. You've basically come to MetaTalk saying "I know best! Would everyone PLEASE stop advising anything other than what I am advising?!?! Although I am not a lawyer, lawyers agree with me."*

*except for the pesky matter of your assertion that such advice was "illegal," which it appears you've since retracted.

Do you realize that your little display here is totally against the spirit and functions of AskMe? You're asking people who offered their own good faith advice to STOP
GIVING that advice, because YOU know best and that your moronic, breathless advice, which included factual statements that were clearly wrong and which you've been forced to retract, is the only good advice. What the fuck. Who are you -- especially without a law license -- to so arrogantly assert that you and only you have the right answer and make a big MetaTalk scene about it?

posted by jayder at 12:40 PM on July 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


I just wanted to say exactly what St Alia said. So, there.
posted by Neofelis at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other, I'm really glad that my mom unilaterally decided to move us to Europe when I was 10 in order to keep my dad from unilaterally deciding to not send me home from a summer visit I would have been there for. He was prepared to keep me and to fight for sole custody by lying about my mom being a heroin addict. I would not have wanted to be raised by such a person.

I wonder, if you stayed with him, if your opinion would be exactly opposite what it is now? I mean, I guess your Mom wouldn't have said your Dad was a heroin addict--but then, since you took off to Europe, how did you know Dad was going to lie about Mom being one to keep you? Did he tell you so, or did Mom? I guess you really had to figure out who you could trust early on. That sounds rough. And even if you're happy about how it all turned out, it kinda sucks that she could take you out of the country like that. Nowadays, you do need both custodial parents to get a passport for a kid, at least.

About the legality, we know that yes, a Mom can keep the pregnancy secret from the biological Dad if she wants to. I did read one NY article that pointed out the advantages for her and the child in establishing the paternity--everything from the father's health care benefits to inheritance rights-- and one issue I hadn't thought of is that if Mom ever needs to go on public assistance, Social Services can legally bring a paternity action to establish the biological father and make him responsible for financially supporting the child instead, whether she wants them to or not.

So not telling the father about the pregnancy doesn't guarantee that he wouldn't find out later anyway. I think it's a good thing that the OP seems to be putting a plan into place that will let her tell the biological father she's pregnant when she feels the time is right for her.
posted by misha at 4:54 PM on July 16, 2011


I wonder, if you stayed with him, if your opinion would be exactly opposite what it is now? I mean, I guess your Mom wouldn't have said your Dad was a heroin addict--but then, since you took off to Europe, how did you know Dad was going to lie about Mom being one to keep you? Did he tell you so, or did Mom?

Well, my mom did. I don't think she would have lied about it - my dad had moved from Hawaii to Kentucky some years before, and my visits to him (and when he came back to Hawaii) always seemed to me to be drama-free and without freakout on the part of either parent, and I had pretty regular contact with his side of the family there. I do know that years and years later, when my dad was in the hospital after his second or third heart attack, he apologized to me for "that mess when you were a kid." He wasn't more specific and I never had the courage to ask him directly about what had happened or why he'd done what he did (or tried to do). My stepmother, whom my dad married two or three years after my parents divorced, was a wonderful woman who was always very kind and loving with me when I was visiting.

Would I have been better off? It's impossible to say, of course. I do know that when my mom and I moved to the Boston area when I was about 12, we ended up in a town with an excellent public school system. I had a group of peers and friends where it was very normal (in a non-psychotic way) to work hard in school and apply to good colleges. My younger half-sister was not as lucky, public-school-wise. She has made a bunch of bad choices and had things happen (like our dad dying when I was nearly 30 and she was barely 19) that have landed her in a federal penitentiary. My father was not a bad man or abusive father, at all (discounting the tried-to-kidnap-me thing, and the profound lack of consistent child support payments except when he won at the track), and my stepmother was great. Could my younger sister's life have been mine? There's no way to tell, but at this point in my life, I'm glad it wasn't.
posted by rtha at 5:41 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I resent the idea that one parent can unilaterally decide to remove the other from a child's life.

After my parents divorced, my mom kept my dad in my life for pretty much this reason. She didn't think that it would be right for me to have him completely removed from my life. It was complicated and messy and my biological father lacks the social skills that the Good Lord gave a rat terrier. The man has, on more than one occasion, told me simultaneously that he regrets that he didn't spend more time with me as a kid AND that if he could do his life over again, he wouldn't have had me in the first place. Gee, thnx.

The reason this has come up thirty years later is that I myself now have a child and I'm finding myself in the same position my mom was in w/r/t having this particular man in my child's life. In trying to hash out this decision, my mom revealed to me for the first time that she seriously considered just cutting him off entirely and is wondering if she made the right decision.

For my part, a lot of my life would have been better without his involvement. A lot. Like, significant portions. My father has gold medalled in Horrible Parenting since 1981 and has actively made my life worse on more than one occasion. The only benefit I can see to having had him in my life is that I know who he is and don't have any kind of misguided mythos of him as a sympathetic (or completely villainous) figure.

Anyhow. It can go the other way. With the admitted benefit of hindsight, I do think that unilaterally cutting off contact with my father would have absolutely been a wise move for my mother to make.

As is - and I feel bad for having to do this - he will be having the absolutely bare minimum of contact with my son as the chances of him saying something incredibly hurtful (as in, life-alteringly bad; he's said things to me that really were so awful as to completely erode my emotional foundation) to him are 100%. Sometimes, people really SHOULDN'T be involved in a child's life and cutting them out is the responsible choice for a custodial parent to make.

Just to provide the counterpoint that no, it might not be best for a hypothetical child to have one of its birth parents actively involved in its life.
posted by sonika at 7:33 PM on July 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


Yeah, in a lot of ways my father is total fuck-up. We have a complicated relationship and only in the last few years has he been approaching normal dad-ish behavior. I definitely got the "I was tricked into having you!" more than once.

Even with that, though, I really value knowing who he is. I take after him quite a bit in personality, and it's good to have him around so I know what NOT to do. There's the added fact that I'm mixed race, and I think it would really suck to not have any connection to an entire culture, heritage, people who look like me, all of that good stuff.

Plus, he has other children not by my mother. I would really hate not knowing my half-siblings, my nieces and nephews, and my father's parents. They are all really great people.

I really don't mind thoughtful discussion of this. I do mind people being flippant about it or acting like it's an easy decision. I don't think it is.

(I also don't think that a pregnancy needs to be disclosed. I keep writing "child" but people keep reading "embryo/fetus". Two different things.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:58 PM on July 16, 2011


I know I'm late to the game, but I think it worth mentioning that homicide is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women. Some sources says it's number one, other say it's number three.

If a pregnant woman is afraid of an abusive partner and has managed to get away from him, then I for one am all for not telling the abuser of the pregnancy until after the child is born --- and even then, depending on the circumstances in the abusive relationship, it may not be advisable for the safety of the child for it to be disclosed. Disclosing or not disclosing a pregnancy is not the same as disclosing or not disclosing paternity to the father. The former is a personal choice. The latter is probably a murky legal issue that AskMe OP will need to sort out in her jurisdiction.

But while most of the time it is ethical and moral for a pregnant woman to tell the father of her child of the pregnancy, there are circumstances under which I can see that to be the most dangerous thing a pregnant woman can do. I don't know that this is the situation in this particular AskMe, but it is worth remembering when general claims are made on either side about such issues.
posted by zizzle at 8:52 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt, if you don't even understand the terms of art that you are using you probably shouldn't bandy them around quite so enthusiastically.
posted by jaduncan at 1:35 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


...if he could do his life over again, he wouldn't have had me in the first place. Gee, thnx.
Perhaps because he feels that he has failed you as a father, not because he wishes you didn't exist.
posted by dg at 12:07 AM on July 19, 2011


Perhaps because he feels that he has failed you as a father, not because he wishes you didn't exist.

Let's just say that your reading is both charitable and wrong. He's made his meaning abundantly clear.
posted by sonika at 3:34 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know I'm late to the game, but I think it worth mentioning that homicide is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women. Some sources says it's number one, other say it's number three.

I'm guessing we're talking about women in the developed world, right? Because that's a group of younger than average, reasonably healthy women who are under regular medical observation and on top of that can't/won't go out and take part in many dangerous activities. All that is bound to skew cause of death statistics.

I'll confess I haven't read the article because it's asking for a login - will I get to read the text if I sign up for a free account or just the abstract?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:48 AM on July 19, 2011


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