Having a Baby? Get Familiar with Parents’ Legal Rights
Posted on 09/03/2010
In Family Law
Having a baby is an exciting, life-changing event — so once you find out you’re pregnant, legal matters are probably the last thing on your mind.
However, it’s important for you to get familiar with parents’ legal rights for the safety and well-being of your expanding family.
Working During Your Pregnancy
Whether a woman can work during her pregnancy depends on the job and the complications that sometimes come with carrying a child. While many women often work or go to school up until days or even hours before having a baby, this may be dangerous for women who have a job that centers around a lot of physical labor. Other women can become ill during their pregnancies and not be able to perform their regular job duties.
Under federal law, employers must treat pregnancy like a disability — you cannot be punished for being pregnant. Short-term disability leave may be granted, or employers can let pregnant employees work different, easier tasks.
Maternity & Paternity Leave
Different states have different laws applying to maternity leave, and some companies are exempt from such laws. In most cases, maternity leave is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. If your office has at least 50 employees and you have worked at the office for 12 months consecutively, then you can take 12 weeks off from work. This goes for paternity leave too! In the case of unmarried parents, paternity leave will be granted to the father once he can prove he is the biological parent — having his name on the birth certificate is usually acceptable.
While pay is not guaranteed during maternity or paternity leave, parents’ legal rights ensure that their jobs will be secure during their three-month break from work.
Things to Consider Once the Baby Arrives
Parents are entitled to legal rights and protections before the baby arrives, but there are more legal responsibilities to take care of once the child is born.
You should remember to add your new child to your health insurance policy. If you have health benefits through your workplace, find out if you must pay additional fees to add a new family member to your plan. Other plans are all-inclusive. Either way, you want to make sure the newest member of your family is protected.
Planning your will may seem macabre to some, especially when you’re in the midst of celebrating a new life, but it’s important to add your child to your will or estate plan. Some parents even create a trust for their children right away. At the very least, a guardian should be appointed to take care of the child in a worst-case scenario.
Being aware of the full range of parents’ legal rights and responsibilities will ensure a safe and comfortable life for newly expanding families.