Father’s rights is an important aspect of family law. Many fathers are not aware that they may have rights even though they are not married to the mothers of their unborn children. However, some states do allow for unmarried fathers to have some rights prior to the birth. Understanding what these rights are and how to begin exercising them if necessary is important.
An unmarried father’s rights are fairly slim unless there has already been some kind of petition for paternity. Since this is usually not able to be done until after the child is born, most of the father’s rights hinge on the cooperation of the pregnant mother. If the mother is in agreement, you may be able to get access to medical records and tests done. To do this, the mother will need to sign a consent form for the release of the personal medical information since the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prohibits this without authorization.
If the father believes that the mother is doing something to harm the unborn child, such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs, he may be able to file a complaint with the local child protection agency. In some states, the mother can be forced into some kind of treatment if it is demonstrated that she is putting the unborn child at risk, but these situations vary greatly and are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Father’s rights topics that involve issues before the child is born can be extremely complicated. If you have questions about this or are involved in one of these situations, talking with a family law attorney is the best course of action.
Source: FindLaw, “Fathers’ Rights Before Birth,” accessed Jan. 13, 2016