The legality of caring for and raising children separately from a partner can come with a number of issues, and there are a lot of facts that Florida fathers need to know. A pressing question on the mind of many fathers-to-be is regarding their rights regarding their unborn child.
It is important to understand these facts:
• The majority of the rights surrounding a pregnancy are given to the woman who is carrying the child
• Because pregnancy is considered a medical condition, a woman is not legally obligated to provide any information about the course of the pregnancy to the father of the child
• Likewise, a woman’s doctor is forbidden by HIPAA to release any information about his patient or her unborn child
Father’s Rights Regarding Termination of Pregnancy
Since the passing of Roe v Wade in 1973, women in the United States have had the right to legally terminate a pregnancy. They are not obligated by law to inform the father of the unborn child that they are having an abortion, nor are they obligated to obtain his consent. Spousal consent for abortion was declared to be unconstitutional in a landmark 1976 case which pitted Planned Parenthood of Missouri against the state’s Attorney general at the time, John Danforth.
Fathers who are aware that the woman carrying their child is planning to obtain an abortion have the option of meeting with a lawyer to draft a document promising full medical care to the mother and full custody to the father, absolving her of parental responsibility. In the end, it is still a pregnant woman’s legal right to terminate their pregnancy, with or without paternal consent.
Father’s Rights Regarding Adoption
When a woman is pregnant with a child that she plans to carry to term and give up for adoption, the child’s father has limited rights unless he is married to the pregnant woman or he quickly establishes legal paternity after the baby is born. This is fairly simple unless the woman in question contests the paternity, at which time DNA testing can be performed. It is not legal in Florida for a woman to consent to an adoption before she gives birth, and if any such consent is given, it is not considered to be legally binding.
Father’s Rights Regarding Substance Abuse During Pregnancy
There is potential legal recourse available to fathers who know that the woman carrying their child is engaging in heavy drug and alcohol use. A father in this situation has the option of notifying child services of the substance abuse in which the mother is engaging. This can be considered abuse or neglect, and can be grounds for a father to press charges against his child’s mother. It can also offer the opportunity for a father to seek custody immediately after birth or push for a quick determination of rights.
If you need legal help regarding the establishment of paternity or other father’s rights issues, contact Konicek Law for a family law services consultation.