In the state of Massachusetts, parental rights can be a complex topic. With the government’s greater involvement in the lives of its citizens, it’s important we’re aware of how current law will impact the rights of parents.
The assumption often is that no matter the situation, both mother and father have equal rights of their children. However, Massachusetts law says otherwise. According to the Law Offices of Renee Lazar, in cases of unwed parenthood, fathers “do not actually have any rights regarding their children at all until further court action is taken.”
This means that until a court order says so, an unwed dad doesn’t have any rights under Massachusetts law. For mom, however, “determination of motherhood is made the moment a child is born regardless of marital status,” the Law Offices of Renee Lazar says in her blog post. For the father to be granted equal rights, he must take immediate action once the child is born.
If the parents of the child are married and facing custody issues, Family Law Rights says, “it is possible under [Massachusetts] law for fathers to gain primary custody of children.”
“Massachusetts law provides that custody decisions need to support the child’s happiness and welfare, and the judge also needs to take into account any effects the child’s present or past living conditions may have or had on his or her mental and/or physical health.”– Family Law Rights
In several major court decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that fathers have NO legal rights in situations of abortion, regardless of marital status (Planned Parenthood v. Danforth and Planned Parenthood v. Casey).
Though a father may have no legal rights to his unborn child, we believe it’s important for every father to encourage and support his significant other as they seek counsel in making decisions. Support is essential in all major life decisions and having the support and understanding of one’s significant other has oftentimes proven helpful.
If you think you (or your significant other) might be pregnant, contact Your Options Medical for a confidential, no cost, no insurance required appointment today!