Learning that you are about to be a father can be both a happy occasion and a time of trepidation, and that's only when you are expecting it. When it's a surprise announcement and you are not even with the mom anymore, it can be not only unsettling but also confusing. You are loathe to accuse the mother of being unfaithful, but perhaps you have doubts about being the real father. Situations like these must be handled carefully, because the actions you take at this time can continue to impact both you, the mom, and the baby for years to come.

Understanding the Ramifications

Most fathers want to do the right thing, and many fail to understand the ramifications of agreeing to paternity without verification. Maybe they think they are helping the mom and baby out temporarily and that they can walk away any time they want or when the "real" daddy comes forward. Unfortunately, this tendency to take responsibility for the child might cause you to be on the hook, at least financially, for 18 or more years in the future.

Not the Father?

Beyond the financial issues is that assuming the role of a father without having proof means that you just might be depriving the biological dad of a chance to be a father. Children thrive in homes that contain lots of loving people and being a father figure to a child is a wonderful gesture, but you may want to move on to other relationships and have more children. If you believe that you are not actually the father of the child, then you might find it easier to walk away from the situation and leave a child heartbroken and confused.

Child Support

When it comes to the law, the family system protects children against economic ravages through child support. If your baby mom never asks for a child support order then it may not be an issue, but many mothers need the court-ordered monthly checks to help pay for food, clothing and more for the child. If you go along with the mother and accept financial responsibility without challenging paternity, you may be ordered to pay child support. That support might go on for 18 plus years, since some courts see the child through college before it ends.

Paternity Testing

If you have suspicions about paternity, never blindly accept financial responsibility for the child. If you begin paying and the biological father is later located and revealed, you may still have to continue to support the child if the father is unable to do so.

If you are about to be a father and have doubts, ask for a DNA test and speak to a family law attorney.