NSW Family Law Act - 13 Weeks Pregnant - What are My Rights?

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8 June 2015
I'm currently 13 weeks pregnant to someone who was meant to be a friend of mine. When he found out I was pregnant, he went on a dating site and started talking to a girl. That weekend he invited her into our house while I wasn't home and has been seeing her since.

He didn't tell her about our situation, I did.

I have tried to keep the father involved and kept him updated with the baby even though he never replies or if he does it's very short. He never messaged me to see how things are. I always message him first. If I don't, then I don't hear from him for weeks. He has called me names and threatened me. Although most of this was said in person so I can't do much with that. I no longer live with the father. I've moved back home to my parents and he moved out with this new girl.

One of our mutual friends told me that when the baby is here, the father is planning to take my baby away and live in Coffs Harbour which is 6 hours away from me for the first year of the baby's life.

What rights does he have? And what rights do I have as a mother under the family law act?

The father has never been to any of the doctors appointments or ultrasounds and has not once helped pay for anything. He also goes out drinking every weekend and has 2 drink driving charges.

I do not have any criminal charges and have 3 beautiful nieces, and live with one of them so I'm always around kids.

The father of my child tried to talk me into an abortion for weeks, and I refused every time because I do not believe in them. He has accepted the fact that I am keeping it but makes no effort to be involved or even reply when I try to involve him.


Well-Known Member
23 July 2014
Under the Family Law Act 1975, parents don't have any rights, only the child does, which is the right to know, spend time and communicate with both parents and other people significant to their care on a regular basis, insofar as their best interests can be met.

As such, the court's obligation is to uphold the rights of the child, not the parents.

Under the Family Law Act as well, parents have an obligation to try and reach agreement about what's best for the child. Put simply, parents are expected to treat child-rearing like a team effort rather than a competition, which is a concept often and unsurprisingly lost in family court. I wanted to point this out though because I can see that you are comparing your situation with your ex's in terms of who is the better candidate for parenting, but in the court's eyes, your action in trying to include the father as an equal party is more desirable than loving kids, living with your nieces, having no criminal record, etc. By trying to include the father, you're trying to uphold the child's rights, which is what the court encourages.

However, this is all information relevant to proceedings, but you're not there yet, so some basic information about how care arrangements are considered by the court.

First, both parties are presumed to have equal shared parental responsibility, which means both are responsible for making decisions about the child's long-term care, welfare and development, such as living arrangements, education, medical needs, etc. Shared parental responsibility cannot be removed except by order of the court.

The complication with this presumption is that it means either party is free to relocate the child at will while ever no agreement or court orders are in place, so it's advisable to try and negotiate an agreement that can be turned into consent orders as swiftly as possible, particularly if you are concerned the father may relocate the child without your consent.

To commence this process, you must first attempt family dispute resolution, which is mediation whereby the parties try and reach agreement with the guidance of a neutral third party.

If you agree about care arrangements for the child, you can have this written into a parenting plan, which is a written agreement between the parties. If you wish, you can have your parenting plan made into consent orders, which makes it legally binding and enables the court to order remedy if either party contravenes the agreement.

If the other party doesn't attend family dispute resolution, or you are unable to reach agreement, the mediator will provide a s60i certificate which will enable you to pursue parenting order through the court. About 95% of parties reach agreement by consent either before or during proceedings.

If the court is asked to ultimately arbitrate, however, it will do so by making parenting orders that are in the best interests of the child, according to the provisions set out in section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975.

In the first instance, though, the Family Law Act 1975 is only effective if the parties are unable to reach agreement about the parenting matter. Hopefully, that won't be the case for you and you can reach agreement before needing the court's aid.

Contact Legal Aid or Relationships Australia to organise a family dispute resolution conference with the other party. Ideally, it would be best to start the child's life with an agreement already in place, so that it doesn't become a problem for the child later down the track.

I hope this helps.
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