The legal precedents surrounding a child of unmarried parents can seem like murky waters. Battles for custody or financial support are frequently quite heated, particularly considering that courts have historically ruled in favor of mothers. While the balance may be shifting to more equal consideration, a New Jersey court decided last year that fathers' rights don't extend to the delivery room.
It was decided that it was not the father's choice whether or not he could be present in the delivery room as his child was being born. In this instance, the court essentially granted mothers the right to privacy, stating that a mother's privacy interests outweigh a father's interests before the birth of the child. If the mother decides that she doesn't want the father in the delivery room, he has no right to be there, even if it's his child, and even if the couple is married.
This case may have happened in New Jersey, but now that the door has been opened, it could quickly become a national issue that Texans may have to face. However, even if this right to privacy ends up extending to Texas, it only extends through the delivery period, and the father could still seek custody of the child after the birth.
Texas law recognizes the importance of having both parents actively involved in their child’s upbringing. Still, fathers often have to take legal action to prevent unfair visitation agreements or unjust limitations on their relationship with their child. To this day, the law regarding parental involvement continues to change. Fathers should not be afraid to fight to have an active role in their children’s lives.
Source: Baltimore Post-Examiner, “Plotnick v DeLuccia sets limits to fathers’ rights,” Kimberly Rice, March 22, 2014