How can an unmarried father protect his rights in an adoption?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Thursday, February 5, 2015.

The adoption process in Missouri offers the opportunity for single individuals or couples to become the legal parents of a child. Once the adoption process is completed and finalized through the courts, the adoptive parents take on the same legal duties and acquire all legal rights generally afforded to the birth parents.

In fact, one of the final steps in a Missouri adoption is the sealing of the child’s original birth certificate and its replacement with one in which the adoptive parents are listed as the birth parents. For all intents and purposes, adoption terminates the rights of the birth parents.

Termination of the parental rights may occur by court order after a finding of abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child by one or both of the birth parents. Birth parents may also voluntarily give up their parental rights in order to allow a child to be adopted.

Complex family law issues arise when the father of a child is not married to its mother and paternity has not been established.

An unmarried father must take steps to protect his right to be notified of an adoption proceeding involving his child; otherwise, the adoption may be finalized without his consent. An unmarried father may establish paternity through an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity signed by both parents, or, if the mother refuses to cooperate, by filing a paternity proceeding in court.

State law allows a man to protect his right to be notified of an adoption proceeding involving his child while he goes through the process of establishing paternity. He can arrange to be notified of an adoption proceeding by adding his name to the state’s Putative Father Registry. He still must establish paternity, but registration within 15 days from the date of the child’s birth assures a putative father of being notified in the event an adoption proceeding is begun.

This posting is an overview of a one aspect of family law involving an unmarried father’s rights. It is not intended as legal advice which should only be obtained from an attorney well-versed in adoption and the rights of birth parents.

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