Not every union results in a match made in heaven. Sometimes, however, unions do result in pregnancy. If you believe you are the father of an unborn child, and want a say in either raising the child or putting the child up for adoption, you have rights. Contrary to popular belief, a woman cannot place a child for adoption without the father’s consent under certain circumstances. However, this is not an automatic right. Rather, if you think you are the father of an unborn child, you must be proactive about paternity. You must register with the Florida Putative Father Registry.
The Registry is designed to allow men who are unmarried to the biological mother of a child to preserve his right to notice of a pending adoption. Additionally, the claim preserves his right to consent or object in the event of an adoption. Without a claim of paternity, the woman can place the child for an adoption without the father’s knowledge and consent.
How to Claim Paternity in Florida
If you believe you are the father of an unborn child, and want to have a say in whether the child is placed for adoption, or with whom, you must complete a Claim of Paternity and file it, along with a filing and indexing fee (currently $9.00). This form asks for basic information, such as your name, address, an alternate address where you can be reached, and your telephone number. It also asks the date and location of conception (to the best of your knowledge), as well as information on the mother, and the expected date of delivery or, if the child is born, the date of birth.
The Consequences of Not Filing a Claim
If you do not file a claim of paternity, the state of Florida may not know who you are. Instead, you are dependent on the pregnant mother to name you as the father of the child. If the mother chooses not to identify you, you will have no say in whether she places the child for adoption or with whom. You will also not have the legal right to visitation.
The Consequences of Filing a Claim
If you file a claim of paternity with the state of Florida in a timely fashion, you will be notified if the mother places the child for adoption. At that time, you have the option of agreeing to the adoption or objecting to it. However, the child’s birth record will not be impacted by a claim of paternity. In order to accomplish paternal identity for this purpose, other steps must be taken.
At some point, if you discover you are not the father, you can revoke the claim of paternity. Simply fill out the necessary forms, and file them prior to the child’s birth.
If You Think You Might Be a Father Soon
If you think you may be a father soon, you have certain rights as a parent. However, this is only true once paternity has been established. Even then, visitation rights must be negotiated. Particularly if the mother is not cooperative, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side, advocating for your interests.
Contact the Estevez-Pazos Law Firm for more information about what we can do for you. We can advocate for you and ensure your rights are protected.