I am 37 wks preg. I am having a csection in 2 weeks. The father of my child has been very uninvolved in the pregnancy. He moved 2 1/2 hours away 3 weeks ago. We discussed visitation and decided she would always be in my primary care and that there would be no overnight visits until she was at least one year old. Now he tells me that he bought a infant car seat and his family is buying baby gear for when she is with him! Today he said I'll be sick of her at 3 mo. and want him to take her. I will never feel that way about her. I am wondering how I can keep him from getting visitation while she is under at least 6 mo. Should I put him on the birth certificate? Should I breast feed? Will it matter? Should I even allow him at the hospital when she is born? What is my best course of action?
Family Law Attorney
When two parents are separated, there is no custody or visitation in place until you go to court to seek an order. What this also means, however, is that no parent would be able to get the police, or anyone else, to "enforce" custody or visitation without such an order. Without getting into the prudence of shutting out the father from his child, if the father is on the birth certificate, he would be presumed to be the father, and would have all rights to custody the same as you, meaning that if he had the child and refused to return him, the police could not help you in the absence of an order establishing you as the custodial parent. At the same time, he could not seek to have the police enforce visitation in the absence of an order. In that respect, a court order would provide some assurances and protection for you. Yet I have seen a number of instances when seeking a judicial determination has led to a negative reaction that leads to further complications in the relationship between the two of you.
Based on what I can gather from your relationship based on the tenor of your post, it might be wise that if you harbor any doubts about his status as the father, you certainly should not put him on the birth certificate, and should insist on a paternity test if he seeks custody or visitation. If you have no doubts that he is the father, then you will need to balance your concerns about custody and visitation with the prudence of acting in that way. Ultimately, it would seem likely that this matter would end up in court sometime for a determination of custody or visitation. If it does, the court will make a determination based on what he sees as the best interests of the child. One of the factors he would consider is each of your relationship with the child and each of your encouragement of the other parent's relationship with the child. Should you take actions to shut the father out, the judge could determine that the child's best interests might require additional visitation than you would determine is appropriate.
There are a number of other factors that might make the risks I mention worth while, but in this limited forum, it is impossible to consider every possible alternative. Only an attorney could go through these facts and help you navigate through these potential risks. I would at least consult with an attorney now and find out what is the best course of action for you in this circumstance before your child is born so you are prepared when you need to be.
In Virginia, one can bring a custody/visitation petition after the child is born - there is no age restriction. The Court would consider the age of the child in determining visitation, but there would be no guarantee that you could keep him from getting visitation until your child is a certain age.
As the previous poster stated, if the father is listed on the birth certificate he has the same parental rights as you in the absence of a court order for custody/visitation. This can cause headaches in the situation where one parent refuses to take/return the child to the other.
If you have any doubts whatsoever about whether the father is actually the biological father of the child, you can avoid putting him on the birth certificate and wait until there is a custody/visitation petition to worry about paternity. If you acknowledge that he is the father, I would be very careful about shutting him out unless there is some concrete reason to do so.
Another thing to remember is that you have the right to seek child support from the father as well if you decide to list him on the birth certificate.
Since it appears likely that you’ll be heading to court at some point soon, I would contact an attorney to discuss your options in greater detail than this board would allow and to full explore the implications of the many decisions you will be facing soon.
>I am wondering how I can keep him from getting visitation while she is under at least 6 mo.
That's not going to happen unless the father has done some pretty extraordinarily bad or negligent things. What has he done that makes you contemplate doing this to your child?