Can a child be kept a secret from the father?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2020 | Paternity |

In many paternity cases, a man and a woman both know about the pregnancy. The only issue is resolving any questions about paternity. If paternity is in doubt or there may be multiple potential fathers, a paternity test can help determine who has the legal obligation and rights associated with the child.

But what happens if a woman becomes pregnant and does not want the father to know? Can she keep it a secret, or does she have to inform him?

There’s no law that requires a mother to inform the father about a child’s birth

Typically, it’s up to the mother to tell the father that the child exists. She has no legal obligation. If she decides that she doesn’t want to tell the father, she can keep the news to herself — although that may limit her options when it comes to social services and other benefits.

Just the same, some women have done this after getting pregnant in a fast, short relationship with a person they ended up resenting. It was clear that the couple wasn’t a good match. In some cases, a woman may even be nervous to let her young child spend any time with that individual. Both for the sake of safety and for not having to stay in a relationship with that man, she can keep the child’s birth a secret. 

Keeping a child’s paternity secret can have long-lasting ramifications for everyone

Naturally, there are consequences to that decision. The child may want to know who his or her father is when they grow up. Perhaps more importantly, however, the child also loses out on their father’s financial support and involvement in their lives. They also lose inheritance rights they might have.

The father may also suffer from the loss of their child’s companionship, which is why many potential fathers seek paternity actions on their own when they learn that a former partner has a child that may be theirs.

A situation like this can naturally get very complicated. If you’re involved in one, on either side of the equation, be sure you know what legal rights you have.