Rights of pregnant women and unborn children
The Family Court has no power to make orders in relation to unborn children. There is one limited exception however, and that relates more to the health and care of the pregnant woman. This exception is that a pregnant woman is able to make an application to the court seeking maintenance from the father for the costs of both carrying and birthing the child. Up until the birth of the child a pregnant woman has the right to move freely between States and Territories. This means that a father of an unborn child has no legal standing to prevent a pregnant woman from moving. Once a child is born however, that child also has rights and their rights may impact on the mother’s rights. A child’s rights include (but are not limited to) a right to be protected from harm and a right to have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with their parents. Once born, it is then open to either the mother or the father to apply to the court, once they have completed mediation, for Orders relating to parenting arrangements.
The focus of the legislation is always the ‘best interest’ of the child. The fact that a child may have no relationship with his or her parent would not prevent that parent from seeking a court order in relation to the child at some future point.