Can A Father Get Joint Custody Of A Newborn Baby?

Pittsburgh divorce lawyer Anna CiardiQuestion:

My wife and I are going through a divorce and she is pregnant. I want joint custody of our unborn child.

How old does the child have to be for me to seek joint custody? Is it possible for a father to have custody of a newborn child?


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.

You should be able to file for custody as soon as the child is born. In some jurisdictions it may be possible to have interim custody established with a paternity suit prior to the child actually being born, but the purpose of those actions primarily is, of course, to establish paternity and also to establish a child support obligation.

So, according to the limited information you list in your question, it might make more sense for you to wait until after the child is born and file a traditional custody action.

It is also possible to try and negotiate an agreement for custody prior to the birth, which could be filed with the court once the child is born.

In many jurisdictions in the not so distant past, there was a “tender years” presumption in the law that favored very young children spending the majority of their time with their mother. But that presumption has fallen out of favor in many jurisdictions.

Although, sometimes in practice, when mothers are breast feeding, this can slow down the time before which parties might eventually share more equal custodial time.

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Will I Get Custody?

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Anna M. Ciardi, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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3 comments on “Can A Father Get Joint Custody Of A Newborn Baby?

    Contriving to establish a newborn’s “domicile” for custody rights purposes
    This question, and the current dispute between Sara McKenna and Bode Miller, raises an interesting point: assuming she has the funds and perhaps depending upon her nationality(yes), can a woman contrive to establish a convenient domicile for the child in the sense of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and municipal law? Until now I thought that Delvoye v. Lee (In re Delvoye) (Belgium & New Jersey) established a convincing rule, and perhaps it does. In the current tax environment (thinking of FATCA) it’s not unusual for mothers holding another nationality to try to avoid the attribution of US citizenship to their babies. Hague Convention rights add other wrinkle to that: it’s possible for a noncitizen to establish domicile (in both the US state-law sense and those of other countries including England and civil-law jurisdictions). But it takes special circumstances, usually. A child can’t really be “abducted” before s/he is born. “Habitual residence” can scarcely exist before birth. The Convention cannot, of course, by itself establish a legal right of residence for a child in a country (or group of countries such as the EU) of which s/he is not an actual or (thinking of the Right of Return for Israel and certain countries where citizenship of children born abroad depends on registration) potential citizen.

    I don’t imagine New Jersey law differs greatly from Pennsylvania. Or from New York, where I am admitted.

    6 years ago, in Colorado I was told that I had to wait until my 9 month old son was 30 months old..
    At 30 months I was told that he is used to being with his mother now.
    Sad, sick, sorry situation.
    Please do all you can while you have a chance to get 50/50

    I can only speak from what I’ve learnt about the Britsh system.

    You basically need to be the parent who physically has the children, as the court system will only allow a major change if you can prove that the other party is either physically hurting the children or a drug addict (although this doesn’t always mean certainty.

    Even if you are prepared to be reasonable the only course of action is remove the child yourself and then make up a list of allegations which make your ex – partner unfit to look after children.
    Look after the child properly, register with the local police/ doctors / nurseries etc, and then once the matter finally comes to court – in most cases in the uk this can be up to a 12- 24 months. By this time it is very unlikely that the judges will institute a change of residence.

    At this point you can then be reasonable offer to share the child with your ex partner

    Otherwise good luck, as you’ll need it

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