Children born to unmarried parents in Florida are among the 40 percent of children nationwide who are being born out of wedlock. Despite the growing number of women having children without being married to the father, unmarried fathers have a much more difficult time establishing their parental rights than do married men. Men who are married to a woman when she gives birth are presumed to be the father of her child, even if that is not the case. A man who is not married to the mother of his child must prove that he is in fact the father.
Men may prove that they fathered a child by submitting to a blood test to establish paternity. Men may also sign a baby’s birth certificate as the father. However, some jurisdictions will allow the child’s mother to decide whether or not the supposed father may sign a birth certificate. A New Jersey court recently held that not only was a man not entitled to sign his baby’s birth certificate, but he was not even allowed to be notified when his ex-fiancé went into labor.
The judge also denied the man’s request for the baby to be given his last name. The man’s request to see his child as soon as possible following the birth was unsuccessful. The judge said that a child’s best interests did not come into play until after the child was actually born.
Rulings like the one in New Jersey treat fathers’ rights as subordinate to the rights of the mother. Unwed fathers may also have extra hoops to jump through when trying to obtain a favorable parenting order once a child is already born. A family law attorney may be able to help a couple create a fair parenting plan.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Another Blow to Fathers’ Rights; Dad Barred From Delivery Room“, Joseph Cordell, March 25, 2014