Case ruling on dads in the delivery room draws scrutiny

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Support on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

Reportedly, although many family law cases in recent years have expanded the rights of fathers in matters regarding child custody, visitation and other considerations, no litigation ruling had ever issued until recently concerning a dad’s right to be present in the delivery room.

That has now changed in a big way, with the eyes of many family law commentators and fathers’ rights advocates being intently focused on a written ruling released just last week by a New Jersey state judge.

In that case, the judge relied upon past United States Supreme Court precedents based on a mother’s privacy rights and control over her body to rule that unwed dads have no right to witness a birth absent the mother’s consent.

As noted in a media article discussing the ruling, the decision “reverberates beyond these two New Jersey parents.”

Indeed, it is being closely scrutinized by many people across the country, with criticism emerging from fathers’ rights groups.

“This is cracking new ground,” says Bruce Eden, a member of a group called Dads Against Discrimination. Eden says that courts largely continue to favor women in divorce and custody cases, while construing male litigants primarily as providers of child support.

The judge’s view in the New Jersey case seems quite clear from his written ruling, which at one point states that, “Any interest a father has before the child’s birth is subordinate to the mother’s interests.”

Eden clearly disagrees with that view, noting that fathers contribute half of the DNA to a child.

Many fathers’ rights advocates in Illinois, Missouri and throughout the rest of the country are likely acquainted with a book entitled “Make Room for Daddy,” written by Judith Walzer Leavitt, an expert on gender studies, and agree with it central conclusions.

One of them is that it is eminently logical for a father to be present during his child’s delivery.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, “N.J. judge cites women’s rights in barring unwed dad from child’s birth,” Patrik Jonsson, March 12, 2014

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