Florida’s Putative Father Registry
Once a child is put up for adoption, the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated. This means that legally, only the adoptive parents are recognized as the child’s parents. Sometimes, when a mother wants to place the child for adoption, and she has not informed the father, the father’s parental rights may nevertheless be terminated. In order to avoid situations where the father loses his rights because he was not notified of the adoption, the state of Florida maintains a Putative Father Registry.
The Putative Father Registry is a government maintained registry with the goal of allowing unmarried fathers of children to register in order to preserve a right to be notified of a potential adoption of their children. Registration also preserves the putative father’s right to give consent before an adoption of the child is finalized.
If an unmarried man is aware that he could be the father of a child and fails to register under the putative father registry, he may lose the right to contest an adoption once it is finalized. This is because adoptions are supposed to be final, and the father’s failure to register when he is aware that he could be a father can be considered abandonment.
Additionally, if the father fails to support the mother during pregnancy, and the child after he or she is born, then he can be considered to have abandoned the child. Under these circumstances, an adoption can move forward without the father’s consent, even if the father turns up at the last minute seeking to stop the adoption.
Registering with the Putative Father Registry is a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, but does not give the putative father who is registering any immediate or automatic rights to the child. If what a potential father wants is to have time sharing with his child, then registering on the putative father registry alone will not accomplish this.
If a putative father wants to have time sharing or parental responsibility over his child, he has to obtain a DNA test establishing paternity, or an acknowledgement from the mother that he is the father. A court can order such testing if a father files a Claim of Paternity. If the mother is married to someone else, the law considers the mother’s husband to be the legal father of all children born during the marriage. The mother’s spouse therefore holds all the parental rights, unless a biological test is conducted, or the mother acknowledges the biological father.
If a man who thinks he is the biological father of a child, and then later learns that he is not the father, can submit a Revocation of Claim of Paternity form any time before the child’s birth.
Contact Us for More Information
If you fathered a child outside of marriage and do not know what your parental rights are in regards to custody and support, or in case of adoption, contact our experienced family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida, for more information.