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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!

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