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The rights of fathers before birth

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Father's rights & paternity

The scope of a father’s rights depends on factors like their marital or relationship status with the child’s mother. Although fathers generally don’t have the same level of decision-making power as mothers regarding an unborn child, they can exercise their parental rights once it is proven that they are the biological father.

How can a father establish paternity?

In Kentucky, there are two ways to establish paternity. One is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement Paternity (VAP), and the other is through a court-ordered paternity test.

How can fathers stay involved before the birth of the child?

Pregnant women are responsible for the care of their unborn child, meaning they will make decisions regarding matters like genetic testing and labor and delivery preferences.

However, fathers can still be involved in an unborn child’s life. For instance, they may attend prenatal appointments and discussions with healthcare providers with the mother’s consent or contribute to setting up the child’s home.

It is also worth noting that a proposed bill in Kentucky would allow parents to seek child support from fathers before the child is born for pregnancy-related expenses like prenatal care and childbirth.

Can a father seek legal rights for the child?

A father may pursue custody or visitation rights once a paternity test proves that he is the biological father. After that, he may take the following steps:

  • Reach out to the child’s mother and sign an acknowledgment of paternity
  • File a paternity action to be designated as the legal father
  • Request to have his name on the child’s birth certificate

Although unmarried fathers typically do not have the same decision-making capacity as the child’s mother before a child is born, they can still initiate legal proceedings to establish paternity and exercise their parental rights.