On Your Own?
The number of single mothers is growing. If you're among them, here's what you need to know.
Research birth certificate options After you deliver, you will be asked to submit information for your baby's birth certificate, including the father's name and your baby's.
You can opt to list the father's name or leave it off. If you conceived your baby via an anonymous donor, or if your baby's father is absent, you have the right to list the father's name as "unknown" or "confidential," Schon says. Keep in mind that a birth certificate is not a private document--your child may have to present a copy when she starts school, gets a passport or applies for a driver's license, a marriage license or retirement benefits. So, if you want to keep the father's identity private, consider leaving it off the birth certificate.
In some states, listing the father's name on the birth certificate can make it easier to claim child support. But it also gives the father some legal rights. If you and the father are not married, he may be asked to sign a parental acknowledgment form before he can be listed as the baby's father.
Will your child share your last name (surname) or her father's? If you choose to give the child her father's surname and he isn't a part of her life, she may feel uncomfortable using his name. On the other hand, giving your child her father's last name may help her feel connected to him. In some states, if you and the father are not married, the father must give permission for his surname to be used.
If you're not sure what to list on the birth certificate, consult an attorney. "Once you put a name on a birth certificate, it does bind you, as a presumption is established regarding paternity," says Schon. Although the hospital may pressure you to fill out the birth certificate before you leave, you actually have a few months--check with your state's registry of vital records for the regulations. If you want to alter information on a birth certificate later on, you'll need to go to court.
Insure your financial future "As a single parent, you're the caregiver, breadwinner, cook, chauffeur and so much more," says David F. Woods, president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education in Washington, D.C. "With so much responsibility resting on your shoulders, you need to make doubly sure that you have enough life and disability insurance to safeguard your child's financial future." The price of insurance depends on your age, health status and other factors. A healthy, 35-year-old nonsmoking woman can purchase $250,000 of term life insurance for as little as $18 a month and individual disability coverage for $50 to $100 a month (based on a $40,000 annual salary).