There can be a big difference between becoming pregnant when you are in a relationship as opposed to when you are single. But does that mean anything changes in relation to family law and your rights as a parent?

In an article by Kellie Scott of the ABC, Tessa Dijkgraaf spoke about her experience of falling pregnant after a Tinder match. Her and her Tinder match were not in a relationship and they did not intend to enter into an ongoing relationship. The article discusses how she told the father and his reaction, as well as the criticism she experienced about being single while pregnant. If you want to read more about her experience you can read the article here.

Tessa spoke of a social stigma around women who are single during their pregnancy, and about families that don’t fall into the category of the traditional family unit. For example, in the article she says that she received a lot of comments that “it’s not fair on the child if the father’s not around” and people asking her about whether she would terminate or not.

It is important to know that family law in Australia does not reflect that stigma. The law about parenting and child custody applies whether or not people are in a relationship when they fall pregnant, and it applies the same in respect to mothers and fathers.

Where parents are working together or agree on the custody of their child they may not need to worry about what family law says or doesn’t say about their parental rights, or what family lawyers say about their circumstances. And that’s the case for all parents and families, not just single mums or dads-to-be.

However, when you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the other parent it may be more of a challenge to understand where they are coming from in terms of decision making for the child. This might also make it more difficult for you to work together to reach an agreement, be that an agreement about what type of nappies to use or a child custody agreement.

If you are pregnant or expecting a child, or if you already have a child or children, and have questions or concerns about what the law says about the care of your children come speak with one of our team of family lawyers in our Melbourne office, or ask us about our other offices Australia wide.

Millie Enbom-Goad is a solicitor in our Melbourne Office.