Putative Father Registry

In the United States, parental rights are fundamental. This provides that these types of rights receive the utmost protection from any interference by the government. In Florida, it is a rebuttable presumption that a child begot through a marriage is the biological child of both the mother and the father. However, when the family unit is not bound by marriage, the presumption does not necessarily hold. Where the father believes he is the biological father of a child to a woman he is not in a legally binding relationship (like a marriage), he may claim parental rights to the child by registering himself on Florida’s Putative Father Registry. If you are unsure of whether you satisfy the requirements to register as a putative father, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

What is the Putative Father Registry?

The Putative Father Registry permits males to document on the registry that he has engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman, who may at one point in the future be pregnant with his child. The purpose of the registry is to give rights back to men who would like to be involved with a child and be informed if the child is ever put up for adoption so that he may intercede and possibly reject the adoption. A man that is on the registry will be notified if and when there is any legal action to terminate his parental rights to the child. The registry is to guarantee notification, rather than to instill any rights to the father, or even permit him to adopt or gain custody of the child himself.

What is Required Under Florida Law?

Under Florida law , an unmarried biological father who is hoping to avail himself of the notification from the registry must confirm the man’s intent to support the child he believes is his own, and he agrees to participate and pay for a DNA test to establish paternity. The father must register himself on the registry before the child is born and may not register after the date that the petition to end his parental rights is submitted. The man may be exempt from these time limitations where the mother has indicated that he is the father to the adoption entity.

Advantages of the Putative Father Registry

There are many advantages and disadvantages of the Putative Father Registry that affect parental rights in Florida. First and foremost, there is a requirement that the father register before the birth of the child and will not be permitted to register after the petition for termination of his parental rights has been submitted. This is to ensure that a father cannot affect the best interests of the child once he has found out that he is the father. If the man does not know that he is the father when the baby is born, most likely it is because he has no intention of being a father or is not close enough to the mother to make a serious decision on behalf of the child. It also is effective in allowing men to feel that they have and are entitled to parental rights even when they are not married to the mother.

Disadvantages of the Putative Father Registry

On the other hand, there are serious disadvantages to the putative father registry. If the mother does not want to claim that the man is the father of her child, there may be a reason why. For example, where the father is abusive or was her assailant and sexually assaulted her, this would require that the mother have to continually interact with her abuser and/or assailant. Parental rights would tie the couple together. Though in the case where the mother can prove the father was abusive or sexually assaulted her the Courts would not permit paternity rights to the father under the best interests of the child, there would still have to be proceedings and interactions between the mother and father to prove the abusive history between them.

Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation regarding the putative father registry and its requirements in Florida.