My girlfriend is the single mother of a six-month-old daughter. The pregnancy was not planned, and she doesn’t love the baby’s father. It was a bad relationship. She decided to break up with him before she knew that she was pregnant…. The baby girl’s father now wants to be with the two of them, but my girlfriend, with her family’s blessing, decided they couldn’t be together because it would be insufferable to live with him.

My girlfriend and I are in love, and I love her daughter too. We are thinking about getting married. I would like some advice. Should we take this step?

Dear Friend,

It is good that you realize that you should consider many factors before making this decision. We believe that God designed marriage for the benefit of loving couples as well as to provide a secure environment in which children can grow up. However, that does not mean that marriage is necessarily the best option in every case.

First, we will give you some unsolicited advice. If you already have an intimate relationship with your girlfriend, we beg you to stop. The primary reason we advise this is that we believe that God designed sex to be the expression of love between a husband and wife. When couples have a physical relationship before marriage, the dynamics and communication between the two is altered forever. Please read Cases 270 and 525 for more details.

The most important factor in answer to your question is the baby’s biological father. You say that he wants to be with your girlfriend and their child. That means that he wants to be part of his daughter’s life, and even though your girlfriend has rejected him romantically, it would be wrong for her to keep the child from having a relationship with her biological father.

Unless your girlfriend can prove that the baby’s biological father is dangerous or a criminal, he has legal rights and responsibilities. That means your girlfriend will have to communicate with him on a regular basis so that he can have a relationship with their child. If the two of them cannot agree on the details, they may need to have a visitation agreement drawn up by a court.

In addition, the baby’s biological father is responsible financially for a portion of the child’s support. However, getting him to comply may also require a court order. And once he is required to pay child support, he will probably resent it and may take out his frustration on your girlfriend when they communicate. They will also likely disagree about the details of visitation. And when he comes to take the child for visits, he may even be aggressive or threatening.

For all of these reasons, we recommend that you wait for at least two years before you consider marriage with your girlfriend. During that time, the relationship between the child and her biological father can be worked out, and your girlfriend can take the necessary steps to get him to pay child support. After two years, you will have a significant amount of evidence of the problems that are inevitable in this situation.

We wish you the best,