UNDER FLORIDA LAW, if a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is deemed to be the natural guardian of the child and, as such, may place that child for adoption without the biological father’s consent.
To ensure biological (a.k.a. “putative” fathers (not married to the child’s mother) receive notice and preserve their rights to consent in cases where a mother may wish to terminate parental rights and place the child for adoption, the state has created a Putative Father Registry. If a man thinks he may be the biological father of a child born out of wedlock, he may register a Claim of Paternity form with the Putative Father Registry (preferably before the child is born, but legally up until parental rights are terminated).
Once a putative father registers, the mother (and/or her attorney or any other parties) must notify the father regarding any legal proceedings regarding the child.
If a father fails to register, notice to him of any pending legal action is not required.
Filing a Claim of Paternity Form with the Registry does not ensure a biological father will be listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate, however. Nor does it provide any legal rights beyond the right to notice. To be listed on the birth certificate, he must have the mother’s consent and agreement, or seek a court order. The parents also may agree to voluntarily acknowledge paternity by completing an Acknowledgement of Paternity Form.
All information on Florida’s Putative Father Registry is confidential and may not be disclosed to the public. However, information from the registry may be disclosed to an adoption entity in connection with a planned adoption, a court of competent jurisdiction, the birth mother (and/or her attorney) and, of course, the registering individual claiming paternity.
If the woman is married at the time of the child’s birth, it is presumed in the eyes of the law that her husband is the father of the child, and thus, the man to whom she is married will be deemed to be the child’s legal father, regardless of whether he is or is not the biological father. As the child’s legal father, he will be help responsible for child support should the couple divorce, even if another man has registered as the biological father.
To file a Claim of Paternity with the Putative Father Registry, please visithttp://www.floridahealth.gov/certificates/certificates/birth/Putative_Father/index.html.
If the putative father discovers after he has registered with the Registry that he is not a biological father, he may file a Revocation of Claim of Paternity prior to the child’s birth. (This form also may be used to revise previously filed information.)
Once a putative father registers with the Putative Father Registry, he may be held responsible for child support and other obligations if the child has no other legal father.
To ensure protection of privacy, only attorneys involved in a potential Claim of Paternity case may search the Putative Father Registry.
If you think you may be the father of a child due to be born out of wedlock and would like to receive legal notices regarding that child, please contact Ambrose Family law for more information on this topic.
We also may be able to help you if you are being accused of being the biological father of a child born out of wedlock, and the court is seeking child support from you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss the particular facts in your case.
In our next blog, we’ll be discussing the rights of fathers in child custody disputes.