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Legitimation the easy way or the hard way.

Family law is all about the most delicate, trying moments of our lives.  There is nothing that will call forth angst like a family dispute.  There is nothing that challenges the deepest of ethics like a deteriorating relationship.  There is nothing that can tear you asunder so quickly and so completely as a love gone wrong.  When you're contemplating legitimation, you are likely already immersed in a family dispute, the prospect of a deteriorating relationship and quite possibly living a love gone wrong.

Here's our scenario tonight:

They met.  They hit it off in a big way.  They were quickly inseparable.  To everyone who knew either of them at all, they were an item.

Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt.  In this case, probably so.  The flash of newness fades.  The flame of infatuation burns to an ember.  Now, there may be something else to do on a Friday night.  Now, the weekend may have a few other plans.

But there is no complete and immediate cessation.  Pleasure remains.  Good times continue.  But life takes a bit of a toll.

And then, she's pregnant.  

Now what?  What were you going to do anyway?  Were you going to stay together?  Was your parting inevitable?  Does this hasten the adieu?  Is it suddenly every reason, God's meaning, to become one, united, inseperable?

Answer?  Each of the above to different people.  And seldom are two of the same mind in the same relationship at the same time.

One alternative.  Throw down the gauntlet.  "We weren't staying together anyway so I'm out of here." She feels abandoned.  He feels cast aside.

Another alternative. Go in whole hog. "This was meant to be; let's marry!"  Will they ever really know whether they would have would up together? Will that question ever die away?

Another alternative.  Hedge your bets. Keep your options open.  Stay involved. See where that leads. Don't burn any bridges but don't be quick to build any, either.

Here's what I think.  There is going to be a baby. There's going to be a mother and there's going to be a father.  Surprise!  You are joined at the crib 'till death do you part whether you take that pledge or not.

Alternative one leads to acrimony and a long-term if not a life-time of battle. She's pursuing child support or he's pursuing access. 

Alternative two leads to a rush to judgment. "Maybe yes, maybe no, we just don't know for sure." It leads to self doubt, doubt of the partner and doubt of the relationship.

Alternative three seems the most sound.  A baby changes everything.  So this relationship will necessarily change.  How does it change?  For the better?  Now you've lived the better, you know, you make that move.  For the worse?  Now you've lived the worst, you took the shot, you stayed in there, you've given it the old college try. You work out a different arrangement. 

This far in, the relationship has grown deeper, whether or not it has grown better.  Legitimation arrangements worked out from here are not complicated by abandonment or isolation nor are they further complicated by the weighty meaning of divorce compounded by a shot-gun marriage.

Long story short?  The baby must be legitimated.  How that's done is up to you. You can pick the easy way or the hard way.

Michael Manely

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