Registering as a Putative Father Can Protect Your Rights

Recent estimates indicate that two out of every five babies born in the United States are born to mothers who are not married at the time. The rate is even higher among certain racial groups and socioeconomic classes. Regardless of ethnicity or income level, single parenthood is a daunting concept, and many unwed mothers often give thought to the idea of putting their child up for adoption. Adoption, in most cases, allows the child to be raised by parents who have the desire and means to do so properly and is often a very selfless act on the part of the mother. But what about the father? Does he have any say regarding his child being placed for adoption? The answer depends on whether the man has taken certain steps to secure his rights.

Legal Paternity

When a child is born outside of a marital relationship, the law makes no presumptions about the father. The parents can establish the father’s paternity by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form together. Assuming, however, that the VAP is not completed and there have been no formal administrative or judicial proceedings to determine the man’s paternity, the child will only have one legal parent.

Legal paternity provides the father with rights regarding his child. A legal father would have standing to contest the mother’s decision to put the child up for adoption. The adoption could only continue if the man agreed to terminate his parental rights or was found unfit due to neglect, abandonment, or abusive behavior toward the child.

Putative Father Registry

If you believe that you are the father of a child but legal paternity has not been established, you should register with the Illinois Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the child’s birth. The registry is a repository of information that is used to locate possible fathers in the event that their children are the subject of adoption proceedings. Once you have registered, you should also begin the process of establishing paternity to further protect your rights.

Should the child’s mother, prospective adoptive parents, or a state agency begin the adoption process in the meantime, you will be notified through the registry. You will then have the opportunity to appear and present your case regarding the child’s best interests. Ultimately, you may decide to allow your child—assuming your paternity can be proven—to be adopted, but at least you will have the chance to be involved in the decision.

Consult a Family Law Attorney

If you might be the father of a child but have not taken action to protect your rights, you need to act quickly. Contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney for assistance. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free consultation with Kezy & Associates today.