In an opinion rendered and authored by Judge Mohammed, New Jersey’s Superior Court ruled that in cases when the mother and putative father are not married, putative fathers do not have the right to be present at the birth of the child if the mother objects. The matter, styled Steven Plotnick vs. Rebecca Deluccia was initiated by Plotnick due to the couple’s dispute regarding whether Plotnick would be allowed to be present at their child’s birth and sign the birth certificate, among other things. Although the court relied on certain well established principles of New Jersey and Federal law, such as patient privacy and the right to privacy generally, this particular issue was a matter of first impression before the court.
This case stems from Mr. Plotnick’s Petition in which he sought a court order mandating: 1) that he be notified when the mother entered labor, 2) that he be allowed to be present during the birth is hereby denied, 3) that he be allowed to sign the birth certificate at birth and have his surname added to the certificate on the exact date of birth, and 4) that a temporary parenting time schedule be entered in anticipation of the child’s birth. Although these requests may not seem like the type to result in litigation, Mr. Plotnick who was previously engaged to Ms. Deluccia claimed in his petition that his requests to be present at their child’s birth were rejected by Ms. Deluccia, thus prompting him to seek the court’s intervention. Ms. Deluccia denies the allegation, stating that she never objected to Plotnick being present at the hospital during their child’s birth. Her only preference was for Plotnick to remain outside the actual delivery room.
In the twenty-three page decision, the court ruled against Mr. Plotnick and denied all four of his requests, stating: “Thus the court finds that the mother’s constitutionally protected interests before the child is born far outweigh the State’s and father’s interests during the delivery period.” Although this is a New Jersey case, Georgia fathers should take note as this is matter serves as a perfect example of why it is extremely important for fathers who have never been married to the mothers (or expectant mothers) of their children to legitimate their children as soon as possible. In his opinion, Judge Mohammed specifically referenced New Jersey’s certificate of parentage, which is similar to Georgia’s Acknowledgement of Legitimation in explaining why Mr. Plotnick’s quest to sign the child’s birth certificate at birth was not sufficient to establish paternity legally. For more information regarding legitimation and paternity in Georgia, see our articles further addressing these topics.