Does A Father Have A Right To Be In The Delivery Room During The Birth Of His Child?
Delivering a child is one of the most difficult things a woman has to go through in motherhood. For most women, having a support person in the delivery room can help with the labor and delivery process. Conversely, having someone present who causes stress can stall labor and make the delivery more difficult. This is why an expectant mother may not wish an ex-husband, who also happens to be the child’s father, present at the delivery. However, does the father have a right to be present at the delivery?
The answer to this question lies mainly in how you look at a delivery. Delivering the child involves more than just the birth of the baby. A delivery is in many ways a medical procedure for the mother, and it raises privacy issues for the mother. There is also the concern that the mother may be harmed physically by the presence of an unwanted person, when that presence may cause the delivery to be more complicated and therefore more dangerous.
In a case from New Jersey in which a father sued to have access to the delivery and be there for his baby’s birth, the court ruled that before a child is born the mother’s right to privacy is more important than the father’s right to see the child born. While the decision is from New Jersey and not Florida, a court in Florida may come to the same conclusion in a similar petition by a father because the New Jersey court reached its conclusion based on United States Supreme Court cases on women’s privacy rights.
However, immediately after the birth, fathers have a right to see their children and to be named on the birth certificate if they meet the requirements under Florida law. Therefore, a father who may wish to be there immediately after the birth of the child can file for a court order allowing the visit if the mother will not otherwise consent. Because the mother’s right to privacy after the birth is no longer at issue, a court is likely to grant such a petition.
If custody is likely to be an issue between the parents, a mother should consider voluntarily allowing the father to see the child soon after the child is born. This would likely show the judge that the mother is willing to facilitate a relationship between the child and the father, and this can be important when a court is deciding issues of child custody.
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If you are a mother who is about to deliver a child and do not want the father present in the delivery room, you do not have to feel pressured with threats of legal action to permit the father’s presence. Your privacy rights are likely to trump a father’s wish to be in the delivery room. Alternatively, if you are a father seeking custody or visitation rights for your child, you can get a court order to permit visitation as soon as your child is born. For more information on how we can help you in your child related situation, contact our experienced child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida.