Sunday, April 15, 2007

Moving baby and me

I'm 18 years old, and I'm graduating high school this year. I have a son and my parents have guardianship of him. I gave it to them for health insurance only.

My 19-year-old boyfriend of a year and 6 months recently got a job offer in Louisiana. I live in Indiana. The job starts off at $50,000 and maxes out at $100,000, and is something he has always wanted to do. He will never make this much money in any other profession, and I would like to move with him.

I understand it may not work out between us, but that's risk everyone takes. He is not the baby's father, but he might as well be. He has been there for my son and I for a long time. He will be able to fully provide for my son, my college, health insurance and everything else I need.

But I think my parents will hate the idea so much that they may not give my son back to me. They will think I am being selfish and taking him away from them. The only thing that makes me think they won't take him away is that they would not actually have to take care of him. They're very busy taking care of their rental properties. Also, my dad went through this situation with my real mom when I was two years old.

I think my boyfriend and I are more mature than most people our age. Really, I am just trying to do what's best for what I feel is my new family. It's a little soon to move but this a chance that will probably never come up again. It will benefit all of our futures.

My boyfriend and I are planning to just talk to a lawyer to see where we stand, but how do I talk to my family? Is there anything I could say to make them less angry? How can I show them this will benefit my son? Do you think this is a bad thing to do?

Mother May I?

Dear Mother,

Simply put, probably. But let me explain.

You have a chance to move away with your long-term boyfriend. In your e-mail, you described your relationship as strong. It sounds like he is supportive of you and your son, and intends to keep supporting you if you come with him. Let's start with that.

There is just one problem with this situation: he is not legally obligated to support you. It sounds like he's willing to pay for child care while you continue your education, but he doesn't have to do that. What happens if things go bad? Will you have a savings account all your own in case you need to leave him? Will your parents take you back at home? Essentially, you are a single mother with a support system in your parents house. He is neither the baby's father nor your husband, and he's asking you to move to a place where you have no ties. You will need money or an extra job or something just in case. And please, please don't think it could never happen to you. So many single mothers have faced similar situations and found themselves without help, and having a plan will make it more likely that your parents will let your son go.

Now that I've stated this, let's say you've already planned for that possibility and are ready to leave after June. I agree that you need to see legal counsel in case your parents use their status over your child as a bargaining chip. After you speak with an attorney, you and your boyfriend need to sit down with your parents. Your boyfriend needs to calmly explain that he is moving and why and to what. You then need to explain that you would like to go with him, and tell them how you've prepared for this. All of you will need to discuss these topics before you discuss your son's guardianship.

If this doesn't end well as you have imagined it, you may need to pay for an attorney to force your parents' hand. I do not recommend this, however, unless as a last resort. Family issues are best dealt with internally at first.

Your parents can't prevent you from leaving the state with your boyfriend, but they can prevent your child from leaving, and I bet you really don't want to leave him behind. If you approach this as maturely as you say you are, I think you will find the outcome will be favorable.

Aunt Amy

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