One of the most important legal steps in the adoption process is the termination of the birth parents’ rights. While the birth mother typically plays an active part in planning and consenting to the adoption, the birth father’s role is not always quite so straightforward. The birth father has legal rights to the child being placed for adoption, and those rights must be recognized and properly terminated in order to complete the adoption.
When Must the Father’s Consent Be Obtained?
The father must give his consent to an adoption in the following cases:
- He was married to the mother at the time of conception
- He is the adoptive parent of the child
- He has filed an affidavit of paternity
- He is established by a court of law as the father
- He has acknowledged in writing that he is the father and filed the acknowledgement with the Office of Vital Statistics
While the birth mother must wait to consent to the adoption until after the baby is born, the father may file an affidavit of non-paternity before the birth.
When is Consent Not Needed?
Florida statutes identify circumstances in which an adoption can continue without written consent from the father. The father’s consent is not required if:
- He has deserted or abandoned a child
- A court has terminated his rights
- He has been declared incompetent and is medically unlikely to regain competency
- He does not respond in writing to a request for consent within 60 days
- He is found to be withholding consent unreasonably
Paternity and the Putative Father Registry
Putative Father Registries are a way to protect the rights of birth fathers in Florida and many other states. By acknowledging paternity, the father ensures that he will receive notice of an adoption and that his consent will be required.
In Florida, the Putative Father Registry is managed through the Florida Department of Health. A father may file a claim to paternity any time before the birth of the child, but not after a petition for the termination of parental rights has been filed. He may also revoke his claim at any time before the birth of the child.
If a child’s birth father has been identified, an adoption will not be complete until his rights have been terminated voluntarily or by a court order. Adoption Choices of Florida will help to take reasonable measures to locate and contact the birth father and inform him of an adoption decision.