Ahead of the annual Father’s Day celebrations on Sunday, one attorney is calling for more equity to be afforded to men in regard to the lives of their offspring.
Roland Moore – founding member of the advocacy group, ‘Fathers and Men’ (FAM) – is of the view that excluding a father from the naming process of a child is unfair, in cases where the father has contributed to the child’s prenatal development and the health of the pregnant mother.
This exclusion, he says, occurs more often than many men would like to admit, based on his experience in family law.
“Although there is a mechanism in place for naming a child, there is no right that a father has in terms of providing a name for his child.
“If you consider the system that we have: the mother of the child gives birth at the hospital, she’s provided with a notification of birth, she fills out whatever information it is that she wishes to fill out on that form and she hands [the information] over.
“Any changes to that [information], it’s just up in the air, whether or not a man can then come and say he was providing prenatal finances to ensure that the mother and the child were well during the pregnancy and now he has no say.”
Moore says he has filed an appeal in the court in this regard and it could effect significant changes in paternity issues if it is successful.
He also spoke on cases where mothers are seeking financial support through the legal system, from men who they believe to be the father of their child(ren).
If the man is not listed on the child’s birth certificate and he cannot unequivocally say he is in fact the father, Moore asks: “What is the duty of the court at that point?”
He also expressed that, “most of the times, whenever the men go into court, one of the first things they say is that they want a DNA test. But in our opinion, that shouldn’t be the [prospective] father’s responsibility to have to provide evidence to say he is not the father of the child.
“He who asserts must prove…[meaning] the mother of the child, because they’re the one bringing the man [to court], basically accusing the man of being the father of the particular child [and saying] he’s the one that you need to make an order against. If she is saying that, she is the one that should provide the cost for the DNA test,” Moore said.
The attorney also criticised the current norm as it relates to custody of children, where women are essentially given primary custody and men have to fight “tooth and nail” to be considered for custody if they so wish.
He suggested that the playing field should be level, where the capacity for both parents to care for the child is considered in the early stages, before an initial decision on custody is made.
“That whole concept that all mothers are the epitome of motherhood, that in itself is something that needs to be questioned, because that is not always so,” he added.