Paternity and Florida’s Putative Father Registry
Unmarried biological fathers of children in Florida may wish to preserve their rights to give notice and consent in the event of an adoption, to file a claim of paternity, and to be able to have a voice in making major decisions for their children. However, retaining these rights is not always simple, especially in cases in which there is family conflict. The Florida Department of Health has addressed this issue by developing and maintaining the Putative Father Registry. The database keeps records of putative fathers. What is it, where can you find it, and how would you make a paternity claim? The answers to these frequently asked questions are below.
How Do I Register as a Putative Father?
Use the forms provided by the Florida Department of Health on their website here. There is a fee associated with filing ($9). Forms are also available online at the same source to revoke a claim already made, though revocation can only be made prior to the birth of the child. Additionally, if you later need to update information provided in your initial claim, you can submit additional or changed information (which has no associated fee). All of the forms, when filed, need to be printed, signed, and mailed to the address written on the form. The Department of Health will acknowledge receipt.
Can Anyone Access the Registry?
While any putative fathers can register, the registry information is confidential by law and exempt from public disclosure requirements. Only a few groups of people can access the registry, including adoption organizations, the court, and birth mothers with notarized requests. A registered putative father can also access his own information in the registry with a notarized request. Some attorneys are also eligible to request permission to search the information in the registry as a whole. In every case, a form called the Application for Search must be filed with the Florida Department of Health, and access will not be granted until the Department acknowledges receipt of the required documents.
Where Can I Find More Information?
By law, the Florida Department of Health is required to provide information regarding the registry in English, Spanish, and Creole. Information is provided online, at all offices of the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families. It is also available at various healthcare and family organizations, such as hospitals, adoption agencies, libraries, clinics, public schools and universities upon request. Information regarding the registry is taught by legal requirement in Florida public schools, as well as distributed to each individual getting or renewing a driver’s license.
While the Florida Department of Health provides this information through a variety of means, the best way to protect your parental rights and navigate paternity claims and conflicts is to acquire the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Even the best public information is no substitute for a qualified lawyer when it comes to protecting your rights. Contact the Boca Raton attorneys at Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.