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The question

I met a 25-year-old guy about a year ago. Even though I fancied him I just was not having it because I knew the kind of guy he was, which was and is a club-going partier. But my best friend advised me to give him a chance and, long story short, I’m now five months pregnant with his baby. But he’s told me he wants nothing to do with the baby and advised me to get it terminated. He says he is not ready to be a father, that we’re basically strangers, and I was just a “one night stand,” which is absurd since I was at his place half of the time, even leaving my stuff there. Now I’ve discovered he’s gotten other girls pregnant, and has also given them the run-around. He’s from a very well-off family, owns his own companies and parties every night popping bottles for a bunch of his friends and girls. I posted an ultrasound online and all he said was “congrats.” I never envisioned being a single mom, especially with my first child. I grew up without my biological father and would not want that for my little girl. What can I do?

The answer

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I have in my (non-metaphorical) Rolodex a team of experts I call The Panel. I turn to one or other of them whenever I get a question outside the comfort-zone of my skill set. In this case I spoke to my go-to family lawyer guy, Eric Shapiro.

I found what he said fascinating. It was also quite complex, so I’ll try to break it down as best I can:

The courts cannot enforce that the “father” (aka “the inseminator”: I’ve written in this space, and quite recently, how I hate when those two terms are used as synonymous, so I won’t go through all that again) cannot actually be compelled to have a moral, physical, or emotional relationship with the child.

Which strikes me as sad, weird and unfair. Why is the burden on her, just because she gestates the child in her womb? To which Eric Shapiro said that while he agrees with my sentiments generally, of course she could always abort or put the child up for adoption.

Yeah, sure, but why does she have to make these types of decisions while he’s popping bottles in the club?

The good news (from my POV) is he can be compelled by the courts to have, if not a moral or emotional or (what I would call) paternal relationship to the child, then at least a financial one, i.e. to pay child support.

Now here’s where it gets murkier and more grey-area filled.

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It doesn’t sound like Mr. Bottle-Popping Club-Hopper is attempting to deny paternity. Great! Legally, he’s on the hook for child support, potentially unto numerous post-secondary degrees and perhaps even a lifetime if the child has a disability.

If he does try to deny paternity, well, then, it gets even murkier. In some jurisdictions, he can be compelled to take a DNA test. If he refuses, according to Mr. Shapiro, the courts can draw an “adverse inference” – meaning, basically, he’s avoiding the test because he knows perfectly well he’s the father.

Basically: I’d go after him hard for child support, but run for the hills vis-a-vis having this guy in your life. He sounds like a terrible person and I probably hate him more than most women reading this column because guys like this give the rest of us guys a bad name.

(Just as: as a cyclist I hate dangerous, rule-breaking bike riders probably more than most drivers do because they give us cyclists a bad name.)

Last murky thing, courtesy of Mr. Shapiro. A one-night stand it may have been. And normally the laws of spousal support depend on you living together a number of years, usually at least three.

One exception, according to Mr. Shapiro: in the wording of The Family Law Act, “in a relationship of some permanence if they are the natural parents of a child” it is possible (though not certain) you might qualify for spousal support as well as child support. This business of you spending time in his apartment as well as having personal belongings there as well may come into play.

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Basically I’d do everything in your power to rinse your babydaddy down for every cent you can, and with a clear conscience. And yes maybe you don’t want to be a single mama for too long, but maybe you will find a decent guy (they, or might I even boldly say, we, do exist) to help you raise the kid and Mr. Rich-Family-Got-My-Own-Business-Bottle-Popper can help foot the bill.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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