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WA Custody of Unborn Child as Single Mum?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by bunburyMummy88, 12 April 2015.

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  1. bunburyMummy88

    12 April 2015
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    I am currently 25 weeks pregnant and broke up with my ex at 8 weeks. Since we broke up he has not asked about how bub is doing. He will not speak to me about bub but will text me random things such as his clothes. He has ADHD but doesn't take anything for them. He is acting very immature and seems to not really be mental or physically ready for this child.

    At 8 weeks pregnant he decided to stop helping me pay for bubs tests and ultrasounds which I was fine with. He is demanding to be at the birth but I have made it clear I do not want him at there or his new girlfriend (who us causing some issues too). I have no real bad feelings towards him but feel that as he doesn't want to pay maintenance ( child support) that it would be best if I did this on my own. He does get me very angry and upset when he does speak to me almost to the point where I have almost told him I lost the baby just to get him to leave me alone (didn't say it to him).

    Please what can I do.
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    28 April 2014
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    I'm hoping that the Family Law folks in here will have some detailed suggestions,
    but there are a couple of things to get clear from the get-go:
    1. There are no questions of custody until the child is born.
      Legally speaking, the foetus is part of your body until it is born.
      The follow on from that is that both the medical and the "social"
      decisions are all yours.

    2. A father has no general right to be present at a birth.
      Assuming you plan to give birth in hospital - you are the patient,
      so you get to decide who is and isn't "in the room".

      What you need to allow for instead is the possibility that he
      turn up and cause trouble, either on the day, or over the
      following few days - trying to exercise rights that he mistakenly
      thinks he has, but actually doesn't.

    3. There is no link between child support and custody/access/visiting.
      He still has to pay child support even if he never sees the child.
      Just because he pays (or should be paying) child support,
      does not give him any automatic rights to see the child.
    Now, "Things You Can Do":
    1. Have a discussion with the hospital social worker (in advance!)
      about any worries you have about his conduct in hospital
      on the day (or the few days afterwards); and/or

    2. Also, discuss with the social worker anything in your life, or his,
      that might create a situation where there is a risk to the child,
      either in hospital or at home (eg a genuine medical condition
      that affects his self control)*

    3. Get advice about how you will protect your own mental health as you deal with him.
      If he gets you angry and upset now, get a little advice about risks of Post-Natal Depresssion etc,
      and how his conduct may end up being a problem in that direction.

    4. Start assembling your support people now. Parents, rellos, friends, whoever is around.

    5. Make a pre-natal visit to a lawyer (or maybe just a Community Legal Centre) for advice
      about court orders (eg a restraining order based on his his behaviour), and/or
      getting child support actually paid, and/or dealing with Centrelink, etc.

    * Examples include (but are not only) ADHD, ASD, PTSD, ODD
    Ian Macleod and Rod like this.
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    23 July 2014
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    In addition to the above, once the child is born and becomes a person with legal rights, one of those legal rights is the right to know, spend time and communicate with both parents on a regular basis, regardless of the status of relationship between the parents. They have a right of similar nature for people of relevance to their care, including step-parents.

    There is also a presumption of shared parental responsibility that cannot be taken away unless by order of the court, meaning you and the father are expected to make a genuine effort to reach agreement about the child's long-term care, welfare and development.

    Thus, whatever feelings you may have about the father and his partner, unless there is a discernible risk of harm coming to the child (it does not appear that there is), the child's rights to have a relationship with the father overrule your desire to raise the child alone.

    One of you will be required to pay child support, depending on your circumstances, but fundamentally, the father would have grounds to pursue care arrangements in an effort to protect the child's rights to know, communicate and spend time with him on a regular basis.

    Court is not a process you want to go through, and I hope that understanding your child's rights in regards to both of his/her parents will help you make decisions that don't follow the path of court arbitration.
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    28 April 2014
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    I agree with the above.

    While I was thinking more about pregnancy, birth, and early days,
    @AllForHer's comments are more helpful in respect of
    what comes after the immediate peri-natal timeframe.

    In particular, it is important to understand that the rights that @AllForHer is talking about
    (the rights to "know, communicate and spend time with")
    are rights available to the child, not to the father.

    And I agree about the duty (on both parents) to at least "try and work something out"
    so that the child can actually exercise the right to know, communicate and spend time
    with both parents.

    Because the two things are often discussed at the same time, it is easy to get confused
    and forget that the obligation to pay child support (which is not negotiable),
    and the duty to try and work out a way for the child to know, communicate and spend time
    with the non-custodial parent (which is negotiable),
    does not automatically create a right (in the non-custodial patent) to visiting and communication with the child.

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