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Custody of an Unborn Child

When a woman is pregnant, and the parties are not married, the father may file a ‘paternity action’ in the court. This would establish himself as the father legally. This may be done before the child is born with the goal of making the initial phase of filing a little faster. However, once the child is born, the remaining issues of child custody/visitation and support would be addressed.

Alternatively,the father can also sign a ‘voluntary declaration of paternity’ which is a governmental form that would be signed voluntarily by both parents. However, a ‘paternity action’ will still need to be filed to establish parental rights.

The problem occurs when the mother does not wish to have the father’s involvement. The mother may also deny the paternity in which case a paternity test can be requested once the child is born. This would be done through the court procedure.

If the mother does not wish to validate paternity before the child is born or allow the father to be present for doctor visits or the birth, she has the right to do so. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) supports the privacy of health records & treatment for the mother. However, the state would step in if it was determined that there was drug or alcohol usage during the pregnancy. In addition, if the mother wished to put the child up for adoption the legally established father could have recourse and file a complaint with the court.

When you have questions about paternity as well as child custody, visitation & support, call Legal Action Workshop @ 1-800-HELP-444. Our experienced Family Law attorneys can answer your questions and protect your legal rights.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Marty Bugg says

    My girlfriend is leaving me. She is pregnant and wants to give our child to her sister to raise once the child is born. I want to keep my child myself and will raise the child as a single father. I don’t want to loose my kid. She is threatening to leave my name off the birth certificate as well. What can I do to prevent my name being left off of it and loosing my child?

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      You can file a ‘paternity action’ in CA (it might be the same in other states if that’s where your ex lives). This would establish you as the father and once the child is born you can address the custody issue. I recommend that you speak with a family law attorney in your area to make sure of your options.
      Hope this helps!
      Thanks for contacting Legal Action Workshop!

  2. Kaiimi says

    I am currently pregnant and I leaving my abusive boyfriend how do I go about getting custody of my unborn child? I do not wish to completely alienate him from his child unless he seems like a unsafe father. I would like to have custody and control of when he can see our son. Supervised visits and such until I know he is not drinking/violent.

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      Do you reside in CA? Typically you do not address custody until the child is born…however you could file a ‘paternity action’ (not a paternity test) which would establish the father legally. This would save you time since once the child is born you would file a ‘request for order’ to get temporary orders for custody/visitation. You can ask for supervised visitation etc. It would be best to get legal advice…if you’re in CA you could call us @ 818-630-5503 and we can help.
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop!

  3. Red says

    So my ex is pregnant and saying i can’t get my child until she is no longer a new born what could I do legally to get my child despite her views.

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      What do you mean by ‘get’? Custody, visitation and support are determined once the child is born. In California, the dad can file a ‘paternity action’ (When the father is not married to the mother) and establish himself as the father before the birth. Once the child is born then custody, visitation and support can be addressed. Remember, it’s most important to look at what is in the best interest of the child and, of course, this will change as the child grows older.
      Hope this helps!

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