What is the putative father registry?

Although the courts seems to favor mothers over fathers when it comes to family law matters, fathers have specified rights they are entitled. In order to obtain these rights, though, action must be taken. For many men, the first and perhaps most important step is establishing paternity. Doing so gives rise to the right to seek visitation and child custody as well as child support. But what happens when a father thinks he might be the father of a child but isn't sure and has yet to establish paternity?

In these instances, it might be wise for a man to register with the putative father registry. Under Florida law, a man must register by fling a notarized claim of paternity document if he wishes to be notified of the potential adoption of his child. In order for this right to notice to go into effect, though, the notarized paternity form must be filed prior to any petition to terminate parental rights. The form can be filed at any other time, including before the child's birth.

There are exceptions to these time requirements. For example, if a mother names a man as the child's father prior to signing adoption consents, the man is served with notice of adoption and the 30-day response time falls after the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights, then the man is excepted from the timelines laid out above.

Why would a father want notice of a potential adoption? First, he may want to care for his or her child if the mother is unable to do so. By registering with the putative father registry, a man is given the chance to potentially parent his child. It also allows a father to consent to adoption, which keeps him informed of with whom the child is living. Consenting to this adoption may also allow a father to negotiate some form of post-adoption contact.

These matters can be extremely complicated, especially to those who are unfamiliar with family law. For this reason, those who are looking to act on their fathers' rights may want to discuss their situation with an experienced attorney. This will ensure that your parental rights are protected and you take the best steps for your situation.

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