Every expecting mum has, at some point, pondered what their parental rights are.
From birth certificates to breastfeeding, vaccinations, and returning to work, there’s a lot to think about – especially when you’re dealing with all the wondrous* physical transformations that pregnancy brings!
In this blog, we answer the top four questions new mums ask our family lawyers:
Should I get the father’s name on the birth certificate if we split up while I’m pregnant?
Can I breastfeed anywhere?
What happens if I decide not to vaccinate my baby?
Are part-time or casual employees entitled to time off work when they have a baby?
Read time: 3 minutes.
*Read: Eye-opening, beautiful, unprecedented, sometimes yucky and often challenging
1. Should I get the father’s name on the birth certificate if we split up while I’m pregnant?
It is your right to submit a birth certificate with just your name on it, but you should be aware that this don’t mean the father will never be recognised on the certificate.
The child’s father can also submit his own application to be recognised on the certificate. If this happens, the registry has specialists who will contact both parties to verify the information they’ve received, before making a decision or advising you to get legal advice (depending on your circumstances).
The registrar can make decisions about certain things at their own discretion (for instance when the baby’s last name is disputed), and for more serious matters your issue will be referred to the courts, which can compel you to get the father’s name on the certificate.
If the father insists on having his name on the certificate but you dispute his paternity, the Family Law Court can order him to take a DNA test. If the test proves that he is the father, the court may make an order that forces the registry to include his name on the certificate, and he will automatically be granted all of the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood (providing he poses no risk to the child).
It’s also worth noting that in some cases the court has the power to determine paternity without a DNA test.
In general, unless your child’s father poses an unacceptable risk to their safety, the court has an obligation to encourage a relationship between them. So, unless you have a very good reason to do so, excluding the father from the birth certificate usually isn’t worth it.
2. Can I breastfeed anywhere?
Yes! In Australia, mothers have the right to breastfeed their children anywhere they are comfortable doing so.
The next time someone tells you (directly or indirectly) not to breastfeed in public, tell them to look up the Sex Discrimination Act 1984!
3. What happens if I decide not to vaccinate my baby?
There are two main consequences that parents who don’t vaccinate their kids need to be aware of:
Reduced financial benefits: Families that don’t vaccinate kids under the age of 20 aren’t eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement, the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate.*
No jab no play: Child care facilities are allowed to refuse to enrol unvaccinated children. There are exceptions for kids who are undergoing a vaccination catch-up program or who have a valid medical reason, but simply objecting to vaccinations is not considered a good enough reason to not vaccinate your children. Also, if you decide to enrol your unvaccinated kids at a childcare centre anyway, you won’t get your money back when they are rejected.
*These two payments will be replaced by the new Child Care Subsidy from July 2, 2018.
4. Are part-time or casual employees entitled to time off work when they have a baby?
Full-time, part-time, and casual employees (who have a proper arrangement of regular hours and have been working for their employer for 12 months) are all entitled to take time off when they have a baby.
Once your leave is over, you are also entitled to go back to the same position that you had before you left – although in reality this is often easier said than done.
Everyone’s situation is different, so to find out more about your unique entitlements, check out the Fair Work maternity & parental leave fact sheets.