Discovering your man has a child from a previous relationship

Just glanced at the Wikipedia entry for Gwen Stefani, and it mentions that she and husband Gavin Rossdale, who she met in 1995 and married in 2002, went through a rough spot in their relationship when a paternity test revealed that Gavin was the father of a girl born in 1989.

So this is a question about the men, since biology pretty much rules out that idea that a woman can have a child she’s not aware of. But for men, this is an obvious possibility, and for the later wives/S.O.'s/husbands of those men, here’s the question:

Assuming you’re not outraged by the idea that your man had relationships before you, and assuming you’re not outraged by the idea that those prior relationships included sex… would you be outraged to discover that, unbeknown to him, your fella had a child?

Assuming that he didn’t know about it, I wouldn’t be outraged/angry at him, but I might be outraged at the situation. If we got a phone call from one of my husband’s ex-girlfriends tonight, announcing he had a child from that relationship, it would turn our lives upside down. There would be the financial question of past and future child support. We would have a huge added responsibility of being involved in another child’s life. It would mean I would probably have to have regular contact and a relationship with my husband’s ex-girlfriend. All of these things are one thing if you go into the relationship & marriage aware of them, but quite a different thing if it comes out of the blue. Would I be angry at someone or blame someone? No, but I’d still be pretty upset. Would I try to make the best of the situation and take it as it comes? Of course.

My understanding of my husband’s past is that he had sex before he had sex with me, but not casual sex.

So yeah, but only because that meant that he’d had sex with someone that he basically never saw or heard from again. i.e. that’s not sex within a relationship. Unless there were some extenuating circumstances - i.e. a girlfriend he had that moved out of state and refused contact…

But if my understanding was that my husband had engaged in casual sex, I’d be illogically angry about it, but I’d know it wasn’t a logical emotion and eventually come to terms with it.

All former marriages and children should be disclosed shortly after the relationship becomes serious.

Sure, but my question relates to a child that the man never knew he had, so there would have been nothing for him to disclose.

It’d be kind of difficult for him to disclose something he didn’t know about. So I can’t see how I could be mad at him about it.

However, I admit it would be rather upsetting if the mother was suing for child support, especially past child support (does the law allow this if he was not made aware that he was the father?), and it made it more difficult to raise our own children. However, in Rossdale’s case, I’d imagine money wasn’t the issue (because Stefani, presumably, has plenty on her own).

My partner kept the fact to himself that he’d likely got another girl pregnant when he was 20 or so - right up until the middle of our first appointment with our fertility specialist to investigate why we hadn’t managed to conceive. (No wonder he was adamant that all those low sperm count results were wrong…) I acted nonchalant throughout the rest of the appointment (not wanting the FS to think I didn’t know) and got mad afterwards. Not because of what the secret was, but the fact that it might have been important (and pertinent) to tell me at some point in the previous years. She ended up having an abortion so the impact on us is nil, but I was still kind of narked at him.

But if he hadn’t have known? I might have been a little upset at the general situation, but not at him specifically. Perhaps more at her for keeping the info from him, but these things are sometimes not black and white.

IANAL, but I believe the law (at least in California) does allow for “back support” even when the father had no knowledge of the child’s existence.
It’s one of my recurring stress-induced nightmares that one of my husband’s ex-girlfriends shows up with a 17 year-old who has decided to go to a *really expensive *college.

I’d be mighty pissed if such a scenario happened to me, but I’d be pissed at the baby-momma, not my husband.

Then I’d think the father has a cause of action against the baby’s mother for keeping him from his child for 17 years. :mad:

It would weird me out because that would mean he had sex with a woman at some point. That alone would make have to rethink what I know about him. As to the kid or child support, I have no idea since the idea has never crossed my mind.

I would be very Put Out… as previous posters have said, not because he was involved with somebody before me, but because the fact that this situation has come to light means that his ex is going to be in our lives from now on.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. See, my beau is a man-whore. I know about the two kids he knows about, and the two ex-wives (one of whom is the mother of the two children). I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if there were more children of his running around in the world that he just hasn’t learned about yet.

Hey, he’s 38 and I’m 41. At this point in our lives, I’d be hard-pressed to find a man who doesn’t have a history. I am not married to him, nor do I plan to be married to him, ever, so I don’t care how many children he is responsible for financially. (And so far, that number is zero as I think he gave up parental rights when his ex-wife remarried.)

I’d be horrified. And outraged. A history is totally different from a kid.

And I am not going to say anymore about it.

I would be surprised and dismayed but not outraged.

This is pretty much true, and I can’t answer the OP, but I thought I would have a short hijack saying that in the 1996 movie Secrets & Lies by Mike Leigh there is a very interesting meeting between an adopted child and her birth mother. Also, the movie is excellent and worth seeing.

My partner has a daughter and a son from two former relationships. They are in their 20s now. We are on fairly good terms with both mothers and both kids, and it’s never been a problem.

And if he hadn’t known about the kids but just found out, that wouldn’t change anything as far as my feelings were concerned.

Right, exactly. Why would I be mad at him for something he didn’t know about? It’s not like we’re dealing with deceit or keeping secrets here. The idea of being outraged that your partner, at some point(s), had casual sex is just silly.

Outraged at my SO? Why? Outraged at the child’s mother? Maybe. It would mostly depend on the circumstances of his finding out, and the circumstances of her decision not to tell him initially. Wary of this new development? Oh hell yes.

This thread would have been great with “Need answer fast” in the title.

I think the key is “would you be outraged to discover that, unbeknown to him, your fella had a child?”.

If he didn’t know then it’s hard to feel outrage.

However, depending on what he’s told you about his past though it could be an issue:

Did he claim never to have slept with anyone before you got together?

Was it a one-night-stand or the result of a long-term relationship? If the latter, was it a relationship you were aware of?

If the mother was a hooker you might question his behavior and judgement. If it was a drunken fumble after Prom Night then it’s perhaps less of an issue.

I guess the age of the child would be a factor - if the child was fathered when your partner was in his late teens (and you’re both now in your late 40s) then it’s perhaps different to a 2 y/old when you’re in your mid- to late-20s.

For example, my wife would be exceptionally shocked to find I’d fathered a child, based on what I’ve told her about my past and the length of time we’ve been together.

Considering what my husband has told me about his history, it’s pretty much impossible for him to have a child unless he’s lied to me. Because of that, I’d be outraged.

As far as how I’d react just to my husband having a child, I think I’d be more concerned than angry. Something like that might completely change our lives and future plans, depending on how much of an active role he plays in the child’s life once he finds out. It will affect how many kids we can afford to have together, whether we should move closer to his child (or not move away), how we handle holidays, whether we’ll have the kid living with us at some point… it would be a huge thing to deal with, especially unexpectedly. I’d be concerned about our relationship and worried about what might happen next.