Do Maryland Child Custody Laws Apply To Unborn Children?
Maryland family law clearly states that both parents are the joint natural guardians of their children. Maryland statutes apparently make no distinction between children already born and children who are unborn at the time of separation or divorce. Both parents are “jointly and severally responsible” for the support, care, and education of their children.
Both have the same powers and responsibilities with respect to their children. This means that in theory, at least, each parent has the possibility of being the custodial parent. Court decisions tend to favor the mother, but Maryland statutes make no distinction on whether the child has been born or remains unborn as to parental rights and responsibilities.
For all of your questions related to Maryland child custody laws, please connect with the child custody lawyers in Rockville at the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado.
The Father Of A Child Has Rights Under Maryland Law
In Maryland, unless a court excludes him as the father of a child, a man is legally considered the father of a child if:
- He is married to the child’s mother when the child is conceived
- He is married to the mother of the child when the child is born
- He is identified as the father on the birth certificate or has been identified by the mother as the father and has not denied paternity in writing
- He has been found by a court to be the child’s father
- He has acknowledged paternity, in writing or orally, and the mother agrees that he is the father; or genetic testing shows that the man is the father
The statutory reference to conception indicates that paternity is unrelated to whether the child has been born yet, even though Maryland law is silent on the matter. Obviously, people sometimes get divorced while the woman is pregnant, and unmarried couples sometimes split while the woman is pregnant. The statutory definition of when a man is legally considered the father of a child appears to be unaffected by whether the parents remain a couple at the time of birth.
Does The Fact A Child Is Unborn Affect A Father’s Rights?
While Maryland law does not explicitly address the question, the answer appears to be “no.” The law defines who is considered to be the father of a child and is silent on whether that depends upon whether the child has been born. In fact, one of the definitions explicitly includes men who are married to the mother at the time of conception. It seems clear that fathers retain parental rights regarding unborn children.
Those rights include shared responsibility for the child’s care and upbringing, as well as an equal right to custody of the child. That decision remains with the court based on the best interests of the child, but no longer being with the mother at the time of birth does not terminate parental rights.
If Your Separation Involves An Unborn Child, Talk To The Rockville Divorce Lawyers Of Guzman-Salvado Today
Not all marriages – or even unions not involving marriage – last forever. Sometimes, couples split when the woman is pregnant. Even if a man and his partner split while she is pregnant, a father retains parental rights. If you find yourself in such a situation, talk to the talented legal team at the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado. We can help.
Contact the Rockville child custody attorneys at the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado by phone at (301) 340-1911 for a consultation at our Rockville offices. We also deal with cases in Anne Arundel, Frederick, Howard, and Prince George’s counties.