Couple conceives a child. Although the couple is not married legally assume the couple is happy and wants to remain together. They are a long standing couple and have no desire to split up. Child was conceived due to a failure in birth control.

There is no question or denial of paternity.

Father does not want the child.

Mother does want the child.

Assuming abortion is legal in all instances. I know a mother can choose to have or abort a child without the father's consent. Should she morally be okay with that. (My goal is not a question on abortion) But what rights does the father have should he not want the child? If the mother decides to birth and keep the child, against the father's wishes, what legal responsibilities does the father have regarding support?

Removing abortion itself from the issue....

What can a father do to legally terminate all responsibility toward an unwanted child??

A mother may have several different options available to her, however what does the father have? It would seem ultimately the father has no rights to refuse an unwanted child. Is this true?

(Note: I'm not even attempting to support or condone "deadbeat" parents in any way. Or provide an "out" to men that want to shirk responsibilities. That's not the question. If there is a responsibility to support a child, it should be honored in all instances without exception.)

  • 1
    As a general rule, it is better when a question has had answers posted, to pose a new question rather than editing it in such a way so that already posted answers no longer answer the question.
    – Dale M
    May 16, 2016 at 2:55
  • 2
    I Understand that @DaleM, but unfortunately too many were focused on one word in the question and that word was not the gist of the question. Overly pedantic answers which skirt the entire point of the question are of no value. I'm not new to the SE model.
    – Scott
    May 16, 2016 at 2:57
  • @Dawn quite so. I offer my comments because the question seems to be seeking some sort of parity between men and women, or some sort of "out" for a man whose partner decides to keep a baby despite a shared good faith effort to avoid pregnancy, and I want to illustrate why neither of those things is likely to exist.
    – phoog
    May 16, 2016 at 7:00
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    There are no ulterior motives. I can't imagine why you perceive such a question to be anything other than a question. As posted, there's no question or DENIAL of paternity.... so it's not a matter of giving anyone an "out". I merely wanted to know if there were any LEGAL options fathers had if the parents disagree about keeping the child. Mothers can take any step they desire without paternal consent. The question is quite plainly... mothers have several options (regardless of paternal consent) for unwanted children.. what options do fathers have, if any (regardless of maternal consent).
    – Scott
    May 16, 2016 at 7:39
  • I am aware the country may be littered with deadbeat fathers.. that's different. Denying paternity is one thing.. failing to live up to established support is one thing. That's not what I'm asking about.
    – Scott
    May 16, 2016 at 7:41

1 Answer 1


Not much.

Consider the following:

  1. The father can not force the mother to abort the pregnancy.
  2. Ex post facto agreements of non-payment are, in all likelihood, unenforceable.
  3. The father will be obligated to pay child support under the laws of the state with jurisdiction over the paternity.

The abortion angle won’t work.

Setting aside commentary regarding the politics or ethics of abortion. I think we can agree it is a highly charged and emotional topic for some people. I point to the fact it always seems to be an issue during Supreme Court nominations and presidential elections.

Given the explosive nature of the issue of whether abortions should be legal or not (in the case where the mother does not want to carry full term) could you imagine how much more dynamite it would add to the debate if the question were whether or not to allow the father to force the mother to terminate the pregnancy against the mother's wishes!

One can only imagine how much more bombastic the abortion debate might then become.

You can’t escape child support (most likely).

To give you a sense of how difficult it is to escape the obligations of child support. Consider the following...

A Kansas man was ordered to pay child support when he thought he was being a sperm donor only and signed numerous agreements with the lesbian couple he thought he was helping. In that case, the court justified its ruling on the grounds that a doctor was not involved in the insemination process.

But nothing prevents future courts from making the same ruling in cases where a doctor is involved in the insemination process. Especially if that state either withdraws from the The Uniform Parentage Act, amends it, repeals it, or never adopts it in the first place.

Sperm Donors and Child Support:

Even in cases in which the donor is known, but holds himself out as unknown, some courts have held the donor legally obligated to pay child support.

Read more here.

Ex post facto agreements are problematic.

Now that you've edited the question, the above link is even more useful for providing a possible avenue to try (albeit unlikely to work): a non-payment agreement. The discussion in that link describes that even if you could somehow convince the mother to go along with it, it is unlikely (though not impossible) to be enforced by the courts. It depends on the facts (e.g., intercourse vs. in vitro), circumstances (e.g., relationship vs. no relationship between the parties), timing (e.g., before vs. after the agreement), etc. of the impregnation itself.

Notwithstanding all the above, if you still have questions, you might consider floating an idea of an approach you think you might try (in a separate question) and get reactions to that specific proposal.

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