Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation

Mothers Can Block Dads From Delivery Room During Labor and Delivery

In the case of Plotnick vs. DeLuccia, D.DS. 20-4-3132, (Nov. 19, 2013) New Jersey Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed ruled moms can bar dads from delivery room during labor and delivery. This case involves the rights of a mother and putative father before the birth of a child.

Plaintiff, a putative father, filed an application for an order to show cause, seeking a temporary mandatory injunction order that: (1) he be notified when the mother, defendant, begins labor; (2) he can be present at the delivery of the child; (3) he be able to sign the birth certificate the day of the child’s birth; (4) his surname is included on the birth certificate; and, (5) a parenting time order be issued. Plaintiff and defendant were never married.

Under the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, the court finds that the mother has a special protected interest in the child pre-birth. In contrast, there is no rule of law, legislatively or judicially founded, that supports granting the father the pre-birth rights that he seeks. The father established that he would suffer irreparable harm if his application to be notified of the impending birth and to be present at the birth were not heard on an emergent basis. However, the right the father seeks to enforce is not settled and he will likely not succeed on the merits. Further, it would be an undue burden on the mother to require her to notify the father when she is in labor or require his presence during labor. It would invade her sphere of privacy and provide unwarranted strain. The mother’s constitutionally protected interests before the child is born outweigh the State’s and father’s interests.

Under Article 1 Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, the court finds that the mother enjoys a fundamental right to privacy until her child’s birth. The father also enjoys a pre-birth interest in the child but that interest is not equal to the mother’s constitutionally recognized right. Applying the “right to choose” balancing test, the court finds that ordering the mother to notify the father or requiring the father to be present in the delivery room against the mother’s desire would be an undue burden.

The father’s application for a temporary mandatory injunction to be notified when the mother begins labor and to be present during the birth is denied. The application is also denied insofar as adding the father’s surname and signing the birth certificate on the day of the child’s birth and insofar as it request a temporary parenting time schedule.

Reference: Cases & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 215 N.J.L.J. 789 (March 17, 2014)

Filed under: Family Law; Mother’s Pre-Birth Rights; Father’s Pre-Birth Rights

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