Hello all- This thread seems to have died down. I hope everyone is doing well. I know I'm not dealing with the OC anymore but I did want to post this for everyone- especially for NEWBIES. I think this is what Phoebe was referring to as the checklist.
Below are some helpful starters for "newbies":
OC HANDBOOK (courtesy Me&My3)
1. Dna results must be established and your H should hire an atty immediately if he hasn't already done so. DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON YOUR OWN ONLY THROUGH AN ATTORNEY SKILLED IN FAMILY LAW.
2. If you have children of your own with your h take steps to protect them and yourself by filing for a pseudo legal separation; because in the case of child support, he who files first gets the most (in most states). It doesn't matter one bit which child came first only who files for support first. So if she files first she gets an amount based on his entire income and if you then get separated/divorced your child support would be based on a percentage of his income less what he's already paying her. Makes sense to protect yourself by filing for a separation that way if you and your husband divorce you will benefit more and if you stay together it will keep more money in your household. Even if you're financially self-sufficient you should still consider setting up a child support order because in these uncertain times you never know what tomorrow will bring i.e. corporate downsizing, etc. It never hurts to have that order in place even if you don't need it now. Also consider having alimony set up in the separation papers as it can also reduce the ow's child support order.
3. Visitation with possible oc or sending money to the ow for the oc is a no-no until dna has been established and the courts are involved. Everything should be done legally as it's the only way to protect you and your family. Trust me on this one. There are couples out there who have been dealing with an oc for several years. Visitation, money, etc. only to discover that the child is NOT his. They are embroiled in a huge legal battle because the wayward husband "assumed" parental responsibility of the child.
4. Depending on which state you live in your h could be responsible for back child support, internment (costs of labor and delivery), the costs of the dna test if it's positive, current medical coverage and also a portion of child care costs. Any money that passes hands before a court order is made or before an attorney draws up a legal document signed by both parties may be considered a gift and may not be deducted from the back support amount owed. Some states base child support payments on both the husband and the wives income (another good reason to file for a legal separation). In other words the 'household income' is what they use to determine those payments not just the husbands income.
5. Any decisions to have contact with the oc if it is indeed your H's should be made by both of you. He should not be imposing his wants upon you if you want no contact. ANY decisions made regarding the possible oc should be made jointly. Your H should not be having any contact with ow unless you are both completely involved. That means no phone calls, no text messages, no emails, no meetings, nothing and NO SECRETS! PERIOD! But if you're smart--DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON YOUR OWN ONLY THROUGH AN ATTORNEY SKILLED IN FAMILY LAW.
6. Work on your marriage first and foremost before you even consider having contact. A weakened marriage will only be further weakened if you throw the tension of an oc into the mix. Get into marriage counseling and IC if possible. You can look around this board and see how difficult reconciliation is without an oc so take things slowly and think through them very carefully.
7. Contact with oc is a very personal choice. Many women are able to make the decision to go down that road while others are not. There is a lot of drama that goes along with contact, it's not an easy path to choose. Also consider that visitation can be started at any time down the road. If say in two years you are then open to the idea of contact the child won't have suffered if your husband wasn't involved for the first couple years. It won't even know the difference.
8. Remember that if the oc is indeed your husband's child the ow will no longer hold all the cards. If the two of you want contact she can't prevent it. She can't prevent you from being involved, etc. She can't call all the shots, only the courts can. Once she decides to attach paternity to your husband she is forfeiting a portion of her parental rights.
9. Make sure that you dot your i's and cross your t's in the form of legal documents. If you're adamant about no contact, have it in the papers. If you want to prevent her from making contact with your children or extended family put it in the paperwork. If your H is responsible for a portion of child care costs require ow to only use a licensed child care provider which will prevent her from having her momma watch and claim she's charging $250.00 a week when she's really charging nothing at all.
10. Protect your financial assets such as homes, etc. If you don't have a will get one now. If anything were to happen to your ws the ow would be able to fight you for a portion of everything if indeed the oc is his. Many people create a will that specifically excludes the oc or they leave the oc some small stipend such as a dollar so that the old "he forgot to include me" argument can't be used. If you intend to have a relationship with the oc should dna confirm that it's your H's then this is all a moot point.
11. If you and your spouse do decide to have contact document everything. Keep a notebook and list everything possible in it from the time the oc is picked up/ dropped off to whether or not they were dirty when you got them from the ow. This information has come in very handy for others in the same situation that ended up having to fight for custody, etc and it's one more way to protect yourself.
FAQs wrt OW/OC:
Q: What if there is an OC? Submitted by PHOEBE
A: This complicates so many things in a marriage I cannot answer it all but will hit on the highlights. There are many questions that need to be answered when it comes to dealing with an other child. First you must find out if the child is the H with a DNA test? Seek out a family attorney to consult with. This is a must because a family must know their rights. Too many get empty threats from the OP involved and they do not know any better so tend to believe many things untrue. Try to protect yourself and your children of the marriage legally.
Does the married couple want contact or no contact? NC or C are not easy, keep in mind wait to make an informed decision. I want to make it clear it is usually easier to heal a marriage without contact with the OP/OC initially. Contact can always be established later on after the marriage is repaired or far along as it can be in the healing process to consider contact with the OC.
It is a personal decision to include OC in your household or not. Neither choice is good or bad. Consider that it may be great to have the OC involved in 2 separate families that are amicable or it may be detrimental to the OC to have to deal with 2 hostile environments. Many times the OC was not planned and the adults involved cannot get along, take a step back and think long and hard about the child's best interest.
The OC is no more important than the COM or the BS. You do not have to change your lives around to accept anyone. I know you may want to fix everything for your Spouse but you must let him take responsibility for his own actions. DS this is some of what I have to say about this if someone has already answered it you can add it. This is a complicated situation with too many variables
Q: How do I deal with continued contact with OW because of OC? Submitted by Bee-Trayed
A: The decision on how to handle an OW/OC situation is a deeply personal one. Some BS find that they have it in their hearts to make the OC a part of their lives; others do not. There is no right or wrong answer to this situation. However, when it is the WS's choice to have contact with the OC then certain "battle" lines must be drawn with the OW, to facilitate the re-establishment of trust in the marriage.
This is best accomplished by establishing a clear understanding between the BS and WS of what will and will not be acceptable or allowable boundaries. Here are some hypothetical:
NC whatsoever with OW/OC
Contact with OC possible but with BS present
Neutral zone for visitation; no visits at OW's home, etc.
Legally drawn up contract stating acceptable parameters for OW to contact WS.
These are just a few sample suggestions. Remember, once there is an OC involved, and paternity has been established, BOTH parents have rights. Make them work for you. It is unbalancing and counter-productive to find yourself on the defensive with the OW.
Establish, with the assistance of your spouse, what your "comfort zone" and rights are with the OW, then send a clear and UNIFIED message to the OW of what you will and will not tolerate. This helps the BS to re-establish some control over a situation that is tragic for all concerned, but in which they, along with the OC, are also a victim.
Q: What do we tell our kids about OC? Submitted by Bee-Trayed
A: Many BSs express concern over telling their children about the existence of the OW/OC. Fear of emotional trauma to the COM, damage to the parental relationship between the WS and COM, or other negative consequences relating to the A abound. How, or if, a BS decides to divulge this information is also highly individual and neither right nor wrong. Family dynamics, the ages of the COM, and other factors unique to the BS's family environment influence the decision.
Relying on one's instinct is probably a good place to start. If there is any uncertainty as to the affect disclosure may cause, then it is probably better to wait until a more opportune time arises. Children are resilient, but that does not mean they should be unnecessarily wounded or burdened with this knowledge.
Examining one's motives for exposing the OW/OC's existence may be one aspect to consider. Preparing them for a possibly unpleasant encounter with OW/OC at a future date might be another. Knowledge is power, but not if it creates a destabilizing environment for the COM. Consider all options and then take your time making the decision. Choosing the right time or place, and striving to neutralize the emotionally charged nature of the subject, can make the difference between a "successful" disclosure and a devastating one.