Q.  I have three daughters who are under 12 years old.  I lived sporadically with their father before he died, but we never married.  Now his father (my girls’ grandfather) wants to legally take the place of  their father.  He said this way he will be able to give them support, including financially. I may want to move to California to be with my family at a later date.  My “father-in-law” is insisting upon this, so what shall I do?

A.  Your “father-in-law” can still contribute to your daughters financially without setting up anything in a legal manner.  If he  legally becomes their adoptive parent, he may also be granted legal custody.  This means that he would have to agree on decisions you make, such as their schools, medical issues, religion and other concerns.  You also may not be able to move out of state without his permission.  Why don’t you reassure him that he can see the girls and have a relationship with them?  Let him know that you appreciate the financial help that he has bestowed upon your family.  He could set up a 529 plan which formally helps with their education or medical expenses, plus may have a tax benefit for him. I would be firm that you want him to continue to be a grandfather and not a father presence in his granddaughters’ lives.