A Standard to Establish Paternal Rights

KK and DN began dating in June of 2012. DN was unemployed with no permanent address. He stayed at friends’ homes, his grandmother’s house or even in KK’s car parked on the street. KK worked as a dental receptionist and lived with her parents. In February of 2013, they decided to have a child together. KK began asking DN to get a job, but DN failed to do so.

Sometime in May of 2013, KK discovered she was pregnant, but by then the relationship between her and DN had ended. They attempted to reconcile many times, but since DN still did not have a job, among other things, the attempts failed.

DN finally did get a job as a car salesman, but still did not support KK during her pregnancy. He put $200 in a joint account for the baby, but withdrew $160 of it to pay to have his teeth cleaned. He used KK’s credit card to pay for a credit history to rent a room, but failed to cancel the contract costing KK $90 until she cancelled it. He borrowed from others to pay some of his living expenses, but he paid for none of KK’s pregnancy expenses. (During the trial court proceedings he said that he had paid some of KK’s pregnancy expenses, and provided his check register as “proof.” However, his actual bank statements showed his cancelled checks were used for other purposes than what was stated on his check register.)

KK decided to give her unborn child up for adoption, but DN decided he wanted custody, and petitioned the court for status as the unwed father of the child.

Beginning while they were together, and escalating after they separated, DN cyber-spied, cyber-stalked, and just plain stalked KK. He hacked into her cyber accounts and tracked her whereabouts. Among other examples, he discovered the name of her adoption attorney, and e-mailed him at the same time KK had an appointment with the attorney. He learned the name and e-mail address of a couple wishing to adopt the baby, and advised them that he would fight the adoption. (They bowed out of the adoption process.) He contacted another potential adoptive couple and told them KK used drugs and alcohol. He showed up in the parking lot of one of KK’s maternity appointments, and later at the hospital when her labor was being induced, even though the procedure had been kept a secret.

To be provided unwed-father status of a child with the same rights of any other parent, a man must show a full commitment to his to his parental responsibilities. Under the Kelsey S. case, there are at least two elements to show a full commitment: “… (1) [A] demonstration of a willingness to financially support the child, and (2) a willingness – at least to the extent she makes possible - to emotionally support the unwed mother during her pregnancy…”

The trial court found that DN made no showing of financial support for the child because of his failure to pay any maternity expenses for KK. Further, DN did not emotionally support KK during her pregnancy as shown by his cyberstalking.

The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court

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