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DEFINING A DAD,
PATERNITY AND CHILD SUPPORT

 


These activities represent most of Lesson 2 from the 4-Lesson Dads Make a Difference Middle School Curriculum. The Lesson was designed to be delivered to 7th or 8th graders by trained High School Peer Educators, in a male and female pair. Adults who have purchased the curriculum are teaching it themselves to middle school students. The program is appropriate for a variety of youth venues; a staff member is presenting it in Juvenile Detention settings. The curriculum is Copyright copyrighted 2003 by Concordia University Saint Paul. All rights reserved.

Contact: Jan Hayne, Program Director
Dads Make a Difference™
Phone: 651-603-6312
Fax: 651-603-6327
hayne@csp.edu
www.dadsmakeadifference.org


DEFINING A DAD
10 Minutes

  1. Invite the first three volunteers to the front of the room. Hand each one a label: biological father, legal father, or dad. State: Remember the children we introduced you to in Lesson One? Each child had a father who played a different role in the family.
  2. Hand out the definitions of the three kinds of fathers to three different volunteers. Ask the volunteers to match the definitions to the father in the front of the room.
  3. Check with the class to see if they agree the definitions are correctly matched. Make any necessary changes.
  4. Introduce the definitions of father.
    Biological father — the man who genetically created his child from his sperm
    Legal father — the man responsible for his child legally and financially; includes an adoptive father
    Dad — the man who nurtures, guides, and supports his child
    Ask: Can a father be more than one of the definitions?
    Invite the fourth volunteer to the front of the class. Hand him the Responsible Father nametag. Tell the class you are now going to build a responsible father using the best parts of the father definitions.
  5. State: Some day you may choose to be a parent. It is important to begin defining and thinking about what kind of parent you will be. Remember you can't control your past but you can plan for a healthy future.

    What does a Responsible Father look like? Write down each description on Post-it notes to tape onto the Responsible Father as you create them.

    Sample answers:
    • waits to have a baby until he is prepared to support his child
    • establishes legal paternity
    • works together with the child's mother to parent
    • provides love and guidance
    • never hits in anger
    • shares with the child's mother in the financial support

    Can you be a responsible father when you are 13? What would be a more responsible choice?This is why it is important for you to plan and prepare to be responsible parents.
  6. Ask: Why do we focus on fathers and not mothers?
    • Mothers are easy to identify because they give birth.
    • Many children do not have fathers active in their lives.
    • Men sometimes don't have good role models in their lives to teach them how to be good fathers.
    • Women sometimes make choices to exclude the father or the father chooses not to be involved.
  7. Collect the labels and ask students to return to their seats. Keep the Responsible Father name tag on the student volunteer for a later activity.

SUMMARY
• A dad does not have to live in the home to nurture his child.
• Fathers play different roles in families.
• By supporting them emotionally and financially, all fathers can positively influence their children.


HOW PATERNITY IS ESTABLISHED
10 Minutes
State:
Paternity only needs to be legally established when the parents are not married.
Here is an overhead (and handout) that explains the process of establishing paternity.

  • When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is assumed to be the legal father
  • When a child is born to an unmarried couple, there is no assumed father, but:

1. Parents can sign the Recognition of Parentage form (ROP).

  • The signatures are voluntary.
  • The form may be completed anywhere, but the signature must be notarized.
  • If the parents are over 18, the ROP has the same effect as a court order establishing paternity.
  • If one or both of the parents is under18, the ROP only assumes parentage.
  • Custody and parenting time/visitation issues are not addressed in the ROP.

    OR

2. Parents can go to court to establish paternity.

  • A judge decides who is the biological father.
  • Genetic testing can be done if one or both of the parents is unsure who is the biological father.
  • Custody and parenting time/visitation issues are addressed in the court order.
  • Child support is often set in the paternity court order.

ACTIVITY: PATERNITY BENEFITS
10 Minutes
1. State: Identifying the legal father benefits all family members. Having a legal father can also be a protective factor when the father emotionally and financially supports the child.

2. Write on the board: Benefits of Establishing Paternity. Make three columns under the heading. Label the columns: Child, Mother, Father.

3. Hand out Paternity Benefit Slips to different students in the class. Ask them to place the benefits under the child, the mother, or the father column on the board. These benefits assume the parents are not married at the time of birth.

Paternity Benefit Slips
(Each slip you make should contain one of the bullets listed below.)

Benefits to the mother:
• the right to ask for medical support for the child
• knowing she isn’t the only person responsible for raising the child
• the right to receive child support payments

Benefits to the father:
• access to school and medical records of his child
• the right to ask the court for custody
• the right to ask the court for parenting time/visitation

Benefits to the child:
• access to Social Security, military benefits, health care, any inheritance, and other financial benefits
• child support payments
• acknowledgement of the right to see his/her father.

4. Ask the class if there are any other benefits we can add.

5. Summarize: Establishing paternity has many benefits for the child, mother, and father. Paternity is only one of the key components of responsible fathering. Can you name the other three responsible behaviors?

A man who behaves responsibly for his child...
• waits to make a baby until he is prepared emotionally and financially to support his child
• actively shares with the child’s mother in the continuing emotional and physical care of their child
• shares with the child’s mother in the continuing financial support of their child

6. State: Responsible fathering is just part of the equation. What is the other variable? (responsible mothering) Mothers need to include the father in the raising of their children. We know there are times when it is not safe for a child to have the father involved if he has a history of abuse or addiction. However, moms and dads working together can only benefit the child. This is called co-parenting.

Co-parenting is when both mother and father, whether living together or not, collaborate as a team, using their strengths and skills to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. In the next activity you will meet John and Marita. Although not married or sharing a home, they are working together to raise their daughter.


ACTIVITY: PAYING CHILD SUPPORT
15 Minutes

1. Ask the class, what does child support mean?

2. In addition to being money paid to support children financially, it also represents what a father and mother should do to support their children emotionally, physically, and psychologically. The only thing the government can effectively monitor and manage is the money paid to support children.

3. Read the facts about child support enforcement.

a. Child support is money paid by the parent who is not living with the child for housing, food, clothing, utilities, and basic living expenses.
b. In Minnesota, there are child support guidelines to decide the amount of money to be paid based on two factors — the number of children and the income of the parent who owes child support.
c. Minnesota law allows child support payments to be withheld automatically from the income of the person paying support.

4. Ask the student who wore the Responsible Father label to come back to the front of the class. Introduce the class to John.

State: John is a responsible father in many ways but his life is not easy. John is 22 and not married. A year ago, he fathered a child with his girlfriend, Marita.After the birth of his daughter, Anna, John signed the Recognition of Parentage form. He is the legal father of Anna and is paying child support. John works the second shift so he is able to take care of Anna during the day, while her mother works. He recently finished a water babies class with her and often spends time with her at the local park. John lives on his own and has a full-time job making $9.00 an hour. Let’s figure what John must pay for child support and how much he has left to live on.


5. Use an overhead of the Paying Child Support worksheet while handing out a copy to each student. Ask them to fill in their worksheets based on John’s income. The key is listed below.

Calculations for John’s child support payments:

  • After he pays taxes and deducts his $90-per-month health insurance, John has a net monthly income of $1080
  • Number of children for this order 1
  • Percent of income for child support 25%
  • John’s total monthly child support $270

6. State: Each month, John will have $270 deducted from his paycheck for child support.
(This amount does not include payment toward child care expenses. If the mother of John’s child has child care expenses because of school or work, John would have to make a contribution toward those expenses.) After the child support deduction, John has no more than $810 left each month to live on. Is that a lot? Let’s see how long the money lasts.

7. Ask the class for nine volunteers.

  • Pay John the $810 in play money and give him thecheck for child support. Each of the other eight will play the role of a person in John’s life.
  • Give each of them one of the Cost of Living cards.
  • Have them read the cards to themselves.
  • The student with Card #A (Marita) will approach John and read the card out loud.
  • John will hand Marita the child support check and then the person with Card #1 will continue as John pays the necessary money.
  • The students go in order of their card numbers, collecting their money. After each one, John counts the money he has left.

The cards are:

A. Marita, mother of their daughter, Anna $270 – “Thanks, John for being a responsible father.This money will help pay for medical insurance, diapers, and food for Anna.”

1. Landlord“Hey, John, It’s the first of the month.You owe me $420 for rent.”
2. Banker“I am the Bank Officer, you owe me $50 for that ’89 truck.”
3. Insurance Agent“I am the Insurance Agent.You must have insurance for your truck.Please pay me $110.”
4. Service Station Attendant“Hey man – you owe $60 for this month’s gasoline.By the way, your brakes are going to need work soon.”
5. Telephone“I am the Phone company employee.If you want to keep that phone, you need to give me $30.”
6. Grocery Store Clerk“That will be $130, please.Do you think that will hold you for the month?”
7. Store Clerk“Nice threads!$30.Do you want us to put that on lay-away?”

Total Expenses $830
Monthly budget $810
Does he have any left? -$20

8. Friend “Hey, John, You just got paid, right? Let’s go out tonight.”


8. Ask: Can John go out with his friend?

  • Even though John is broke, what protective factors is he providing for Anna?
  • What type(s) of father is John? [legal, biological, dad, or responsible]
  • What did you learn from this activity?

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