Skip to main content

Rights as an unmarried mother concerning birth certificate and custody? Do I need to file for custody before baby is born?

Franklin, PA |

father and I are no longer involved and he refuses to speak with me in an amicable manner. He expects baby to have his last name, to be in the delivery room (his mom too), a paternity test, and equal custody. When I tried to discuss these things he told me he has a lawyer and won't discuss it. I want the baby to have my last name, which is also the last name of my older child. I want to choose who is in the delivery room. I want to work out a visitaion schedule yet remain primary physical, legal and residential custody. I do not want to exclude him. I have never denied he is the father. Why's he working with a lawyer when baby isn't due for months. Do I need to file for custody before my baby is born? Is it possible he can get custody if I don't have a legal court determination at birth?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 1


Father has no "right" to be in the delivery room nor does his family members. This is your call; just tell the hospital personnel when you are going to deliver as to who you do and do not want present.

When you are at the hospital the nurse will ask you to fill out the birth certificate information. You can name the child whatever you want, elect to list the father or leave the father's name blank. The problem is that it appears the father wuikll fight you on the child's last name. The only way for him to do this is to wait until the birth of the baby and then file a petition in court to have the child's name changed. I do not know your county's practices, but in Phladelphia, it is likely the judge will grant the name change petition if father testifies tht he is, or that he wants to be very active in the child's life. Therefore, you need to decide if its worth it. Maybe there can be a compromise - if the baby is a girl, hyphonate your two last names or if a boy, make your maiden name his middle name - just a suggestion .

You can not file for custody before the child is born, nor can father. Once the baby is born, either you or father, or both, can file for custody. I find it very unlikely that a judge will grant shared custody of a newborn to a father. He will get shared legal custody, but shared physical custody of a baby who is only a few weeks old, unlikely. However, as I said, I do not know your county or judges.

Mary Beth Reinecker

Mary Beth Reinecker


As a side note, there are instances though where father can be responsible for your medical bills as it relates to the pregnancy if not covered by insurance. You need to consult an experienced family law attorney on this issue and in your county.



Thank you. I am currently looking for an attorney that can help me make sense of this situation. Your response did help ease my mind a bit. It also helped me to see the need to find some help.