Adoption Shortcuts, Safeguards and Pitfalls From an Unwed Father’s Perspective

A number of consequences are attributed to children being raised in households without fathers, from lack of educational progress[2] to increased criminality.[3]  Unfortunately, since the mid-twentieth century the percentage of children born to unwed parents has risen from four percent to over one-third, exceeding 1.4 million children by 2004.[4]  Of children born to unwed parents[5] in the United States, on average one-third have no father named on their birth certificates[6] despite efforts to name ‘legal’ fathers.

Unwed father

Recognizing that fathers are at greater risk of losing the opportunity to parent their children when they are not married to the mothers, this article gives a brief history of the developments in recognizing the legal rights of unwed fathers.  It then mentions several ways to establish paternity, including marriage, the opportunity under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) to execute voluntary acknowledgments and some of the issues related to filing with a putative father registry including how courts vary in protecting the rights of unwed fathers.  Last, briefly, a few cases when mothers have strenuously avoided providing biological fathers with information about the birth of their children are mentioned.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Traditionally, fatherhood was established based on the presumption of a biological connection within the context of marriage.[7]  For example, the United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”) in 1965 recognized a father’s constitutional right to notice of an adoption petition when it overturned a Texas court, finding that the father – married to the child’s mother at the time of birth – had not been given notice in advance of the Texas court issuing a decree of adoption to mother’s successor husband.[8]

The Supreme Court subsequently recognized an unwed father’s right to preserve his relationship with his children in Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972) by overturning an Illinois statute which had conclusively presumed the father of a child born out of wedlock was unfit to have custody of his children.  In Stanley, the father had lived with mother for 18 years and with the children all of their lives.  When mother died, the Illinois statute automatically made the children wards of the state without giving Stanley the opportunity to any present evidence regarding his fitness to parent the children.

In 1978, the Supreme Court again considered the constitutionality of a state statute regarding the adoption of a child over the objections of an unwed father.[9]  In Quilloin, the Court unanimously upheld the adoption by mother’s husband based on the best interest of the child.  The child had a well-established relationship with step-father, having lived with him for eight years after he married the child’s mother.   The Court also found that biological father, who neither sought to legitimate the child nor to establish visitation rights until after the step-father filed a petition for adoption could not prevent the adoption.

Shortly after Quilloin the Supreme Court considered a third case involving an unwed father.  In Caban,[10] father was named on the children’s birth certificates, and the parents maintained joint custody of their children for several years after birth until the New York trial court authorized mother’s new husband to adopt the children.  Father’s equal protection claim was denied in state court, but upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In it’s ruling the Supreme Court recognized two prongs to being a parent – genetic, and the actual relationship between parent and child.  The father in Caban established both.

When courts have to balance the competing interest of the public (and child) in the prompt finalization of adoptions versus an unwed father’s interest in establishing a relationship with his child, great turmoil and heartache often result.[11]  The Supreme Court addressed one such situation in Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248 (1983).  Lehr illustrates many of the elements common to difficult family law cases.  The father visited with mother and the child in the hospital (child was born in November 1976) until they were discharged, at which time mother successfully concealed her whereabouts until August, 1978.  Only with the aid of a detective was the father able to locate mother and the child, at which time he discovered that mother was married.  When mother threatened father with legal action and refused to let him see the child, father retained counsel.  Within weeks of receiving father’s request for visitation – through his attorney – mother and stepfather petitioned for adoption.  Notice of the petition for adoption was not given to the biological father even though he had filed a petition for paternity determination. The crux of the majority decision was that father had no substantial relationship with child, nor had he filed with the putative father registry.  So, failure to give him notice of a petition for adoption, even though the trial court actually knew of father’s existence, did not deny father due process or equal protection.  Some commentators refer to this as “The Biology – Plus Doctrine,”[12] and others as “Labor with Consent.”[13]

Conversely, in 1989 the Supreme Court in Michael H. v Gerald D.[14] found that even when genetic father had an established relationship with his child, the state could allow the marriage of mother to a different man to trump the genetic tie and the actual relationship with father, perpetuating the family unit myth.

How then can an unwed father protect his legal relationship with his biological child?  The answer depends in part on when he becomes aware of the pregnancy, whether mother caused delay, how long it takes father to act, and what parental  responsibilities he has performed.  But, which jurisdiction decides the litigation[15] may be the most critical factor if mother does not cooperate with father to establish paternity.

ESTABLISHING PATERNITY – WHEN MOTHER COOPERATES

There are four primary methods for establishing paternity under the 2002 UPA.[16]  They include for a father to marry the mother before the birth of the child, or after the birth, if he also asserts his paternity[17] in a record filed with the Office of Vital Statistics; or, if father is named on the birth certificate, or promises in a record[18] to support the child as his own, he is “legally” the father.  Father may also be a parent if he lives with the child for the first two years of the child’s life holding the child out as his own.[19]

A father may also execute an acknowledgment of paternity, if the mother (and her husband if she is married to a man other than the father) will also execute the acknowledgment of paternity.[20]  The acknowledgment of paternity must be in a record; signed by mother and father under penalty of perjury; identify the child; state whether there is a presumed father (i.e., a man married to the mother); state that the child does not have a [previously] acknowledged or adjudicated father; and, state whether there has been genetic testing.  If the acknowledgment is filed by a man other than the presumed father, and there is a presumed father, the presumed father must deny paternity in a signed writing.[21]  If there has been genetic testing, the record must also state that the “acknowledging father’s” claim is consistent with the results.  The fourth, last-chance method in some circumstances, to establish paternity is to file with the putative father registry.

PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRIES

Whether mother is likely to cooperate or not,[22] the putative father registry[23] is one means (and in some jurisdictions the only means[24]) by which an unwed father may preserve his right to parent his child(ren) and to receive notice of an adoption proceeding.  Under New York law, the father in Lehr[25] would have been given notice of the adoption proceeding if he had mailed a postcard with his current address to the registry, or if he had qualified as a member of any of the other classes of putative fathers entitled to notice.[26]  While it is commonly heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,”  one can only wonder how many lawyers, let alone putative fathers have ever heard of the putative father registry.

In contrast to Lehr, failure to timely register was not fatal in Alabama, when father, SCW, filed a declaration of “legitimation” in one county when child was 15 days old, even though adoptive parents (selected by mother) filed for adoption in a different county when child was two days old.  Because he acted promptly after birth, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed a final judgment of adoption, upholding father’s right to notice of an adoption proceeding even though he failed to register within 30 days of birth as required by state statute.[27]  Father did register three months later, when he learned of the Alabama putative father registry, from a news reporter.  So, if states want to identify more fathers using the putative father registry as one means, the first issue seems to be how to better publicize the registry to those putative fathers who want to parent their child.[28]

A second problem is filing before the deadline which requires a father to know there is a child.  Missing the deadline was not fatal for the father in SCW.  Nor was it fatal in Utah in K.B.E. and T.M.E.[29] where mother’s father (grandfather) filed a petition for adoption the morning T.M.E. was born.  However, missing the deadline was fatal for a Minnesota father in Heidbreder.[30]  Father relied on mother’s statement that she would not put the child up for adoption and waited to learn from her of the birth.  Mother did not identify father on the birth certificate, and did not tell father of the birth until day 31, one day after the deadline. Father then mailed registration forms postmarked on day 31, but the Minnesota court found the deadline for registering was not tolled by mother concealing her location or the birth of the child.

A third problem with registering as a putative father is deciding in which state(s) to register.  The state where the adoption proceeding is filed should be effective because the court with jurisdiction is likely to check the registry in its own state.  See, for example,  H.U.F.[31] where pregnant mother, while residing in Arizona, served two men with notice of her intent to place child for adoption in Mesa, Arizona.  Father promptly filed a Notice of Claim of Paternity with the Office of Vital Records, in Arizona.  Mother subsequently moved to Utah; but, father never registered in Utah.  In February and April, 2006, father filed petitions for paternity in Arizona which were not granted because mother was not served.  Child was born March 4, 2006 in Utah.  Two days later Mother claimed father was unknown (as two men were the possible father) and that father knew she had moved to Utah, but had not filed a paternity action in Utah.  Eleven days after birth, adoptive parents filed for custody and guardianship and a petition for adoption in Utah, alleging that only mother’s consent was required because no father had registered in Utah, and that no paternity action was pending.  Then, on July 25, 2006, father filed a Voluntary Petition for Order of Paternity signed by birth mother which the Arizona court granted.  Father attempted to intervene in the adoption proceeding, but Utah dismissed the paternity order at the request of adoptive parents.  The Utah Court found Arizona did not have jurisdiction to issue an order of paternity and that father had failed to comply with Utah law for out-of-state putative fathers.

See, also, Hylland,[32] where a California father who filed a paternity petition in California failed to prevent the adoption of child born in Oregon, and, Heidbreder, at fn. 30, where mother moved to Minnesota before giving birth, concealing her residence from father, an Iowa resident.[33]

PETITION FOR PATERNITY DETERMINATION

Parentage may be determined in a number of judicial actions including a petition for parentage,[34] within the context of a child support proceeding, 13 Del. C. §6-201,[35]  (under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act effective July 1, 2006 in Delaware), or in a petition for adoption, termination of parental rights, child custody, divorce or annulment, §8-610.

Under the UPA the proper venue to adjudicate parentage includes where the child resides or is found, where the respondent resides or is found if the child does not reside within the state, or where a proceeding for probate or administration of the presumed or alleged father’s estate is filed, §8-605.  A parentage petition may proceed at any time until the child reaches the age of majority, and even after the child becomes an adult but only if the child initiates the proceeding, §8-606.  However, to fully participate in parenting a child, given the emphasis of providing permanency for children in their relationships and environment, a parentage proceeding is better brought sooner rather than later, presuming service of process may be accomplished upon a respondent.

PITFALLS OF ASSERTING OR DENYING PARENTAGE

Registering as a putative father may have logical, but not always intended, consequences.  In Washington, state law provides that a father who asserts >parentage’ in the putative father registry is subject to personal jurisdiction for purposes of child support, RCW 26.21A.100(1)(g).[36]  Carefully considering all of the consequences, therefore, is important before registering.

On the other hand, if a father denies paternity in one judicial proceeding, he may later be estopped from claiming a parental interest.  See, Adoption of S.A.J., 838 A.2d 616 (Pa. 2003), where eleven years before stepfather petitioned for adoption, father denied paternity in a child support proceeding.[37]  Given his success in the child support proceeding, the father was judicially estopped from asserting paternity, as well as equitably estopped from vacating the adoption decree because he failed to support and maintain contact with his child.

TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE OF MOTHER

When mothers do not cooperate with establishing paternity, they can successfully defeat fathers’ efforts to establish relationships with their children, but not always without legal consequences.

Because unwed fathers were excluded from the definition of parent in 1991, Mississippi did not require them to be notified of an adoption proceeding (statute was amended in 1998).  In Smith v. Malouf,[38] pregnant mother told father-to-be of her pregnancy in August, 1991.  Both were residents of Mississippi.  Mother, however, attended school in Indiana where father visited with her.  In January, 1992 father was told by mother’s family that she had left school until after the child’s birth; father initiated a proceeding in Mississippi for declaration of paternity, custody and injunctive relief of any adoption proceeding.  Mother was served by publication; the court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting mother and anyone who might assist her from placing the child for adoption.  Father mailed the injunction to all the vital statistics offices in Mississippi and hired private detectives to find mother.  The child was born April 21, 1992 in Marietta, Georgia.  Before father arrived in Georgia and obtained counsel, mother and her parents flew to California to place the child for adoption with a Canadian couple.  The dismissal of father’s initial suit against mother and her parents for intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy was reversed and remanded in 1998.

Also in 1991, pregnant mother (Anne), a resident of West Virginia, left the state after telling father-to-be of her pregnancy.  After leaving West Virginia, Anne stayed in Iowa, then Tennessee and North Carolina before traveling to California when her mother saw an advertisement for a California adoption attorney (Leavitt) in a local paper.  Anne delivered and placed the child for adoption in California with a Canadian couple.[39]  When father’s attempts to establish paternity, including filing a paternity[40] petition, were thwarted by mother, her family, time and geography, he sued Anne, her mother and the California attorney for conspiracy and tortious interference with parental relationship.  The jury, in a mix of findings on the charges, awarded $2 million in compensatory damages, and $5.85 million in punitive damages against Anne, her parents, her brother (also an attorney) and the adoption attorney.

In conclusion, without mother’s cooperation, a father’s efforts to establish a relationship with his children and the state’s interest in identifying fathers may be thwarted, but not without consequences if there are sufficient emotional and financial resources.

[1] A special thanks to Carl Gilmore, Chair of the Adoption Committee of the ABA Family Law Section for giving me the opportunity to present an earlier version of this paper at the spring 2010 Family Law Section Conference in New Orleans.

 

[2] Conservative columnist, George Will, names five factors affecting educational progress in the United States, ending with “… and, most important, two parents in the home”.  George Will, Statistics about poor black community are tragic citing “America’s Smallest School: The Family” by Paul E. Barton, The Columbus Dispatch, August 29, 2010, at H5.

 

[3] Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, “Freakonomics” 138-139.

 

[4] Jeffrey A. Parness, New Federal Paternity Laws, Securing More Fathers at Birth for the Children of Unwed Mothers, 45 Brandeis L.J. 59, 62 (2006).

 

[5] While most commentators refer to unwed mothers, the phrase ‘unwed parents’ is used in this article in recognition that a mother may be married to a man who is not the biological father of her child.  See, e.g., Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989) about one unwed father’s unsuccessful battle for legal recognition of his parent-child relationship, at note 14, infra.

 

[6] See, Parness, supra note 4, footnote 10, at 62.  In Delaware, according to a survey conducted by Parness, 76% of children born to unwed parents have no father named on the birth certificate.

 

[7] David D. Meyer, Parenthood in a Time of Transition: Tensions Between Legal, Biological, and Social Conceptions of Parenthood, 54 Am. J. Comp. Law 125, 127 (2006).

 

[8] Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545 (1965).

 

[9] Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246 (1978).  To illustrate the length of time over which parentage cases may extend, the dates or ages of children in each case will attempt to be noted.  In this case, the petition for adoption was filed eleven years after the birth of the child.

[10] Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380 (1979).  Two children were born, one in 1969 and one in 1971.  Father lived with mother and the children providing support until late 1973.  For nine months after separating, father continued to visit with the children each weekend at maternal grandmother’s until she and the children moved to Puerto Rico.  Children continued to have contact with father; in November, 1975 he went to Puerto Rico and returned with them to NYC.  Mother petitioned for custody and was awarded primary residence and father received visitation.  In January 1976 mother and stepfather petitioned for adoption and father cross petitioned.  At the time, New York state law authorized an unwed mother to block the adoption of her child by withholding consent, but gave an unwed father no similar veto.

[11] See, e.g. In the matter of Robert O., 604 N.E. 2d 99 (NY Ct. App. 1992) where pregnant mother separated from father without telling him she was pregnant.  Mother consented to adoption of child born 10/1/88 without identifying father, but did not conceal her whereabouts from father.  The adoption was final 5/89.  In 3/90, after marrying father, mother disclosed to him the adoption.  Father reimbursed her medical expenses and registered as a putative father.  The majority rejected father’s request to vacate the final adoption because of his >inaction.’  The dissent, which also refused to vacate the adoption, did so, >not because petitioner is blameworthy, but rather because of the strong public policies favoring the finality of adoptions….@  at 105.

 

Compare the Clausen cases, In the Int. of B.G.C., 496 N.W.2d 239 (IA 1992); In re Baby Girl Clausen, 501 N.W.2d 193 (Mich. App. 1993), aff’d, 502 N.W.2d 649 (Mich. 1993), aff’d sub nom, De Boer ex. rel. Darrow v. De Boer, 509 U.S. 1301 (1993), where mother consented to termination of her rights in child born 2/8/91, and misidentified the father.  Adoptive parents filed their petition 17 days after birth.  When father discovered he had a child, he promptly filed (3/12/91) to vacate the termination and to intervene in the adoption (3/27/91).  The Iowa Supreme Court vacated the adoption and ordered the return of child from adoptive parents who lived in Michigan.  Adoptive parents’ attempt under the UCCJA to invoke the jurisdiction of Michigan was rejected on appeal.  Justice Stevens also denied adoptive parents’ request to stay the order returning child to birth parents as no Iowa, Michigan or federal law authorized unrelated persons to retain custody of child whose parents were not unfit.

[12] Robbin Pott Gonzalez, The Rights of Putative Fathers to Their Infant Children in Contested Adoptions: Strengthening State Laws that Currently Deny Adequate Protection, 13 Mich. J. Gender & L. 39, 43 (2006-2007).  Historically between biology and “family unit,” the family unit won.  Petitioner F. v. Respondent R., 430 A.2d 1085 (Del. Super. 1980) where putative father filed on December 8, 1977 for custody and visitation, two days after the child was born.  On the child’s birth certificate the Respondent’s husband was named as the father of the child.  Family court dismissed the petition; the dismissal was affirmed by the Delaware Superior Court and subsequently the Delaware Supreme Court, 430 A.2d 1075 (Del. Supr. 1981).  The court relied upon the principle from English law that “… the declarations of a father or mother cannot be admitted to bastardize the issue born after marriage …” citation omitted.

 

Twenty years later the attitude about who has standing changed significantly.  See American Law Institute, Principles of the Law of Family Disillusion: Analysis and Recommendations § 2.04 which states

 

(1) All of the following individuals should be given a right to bring an action under this Chapter, and to be notified of and participate as a party in an action filed by another:

(a) a legal parent of the child, as defined in § 2.03(1)(a);

(b) a parent by estoppel, as defined in § 2.03(1)(b);

(c) a de facto parent of the child, as defined in § 2.03(1)(c), who has resided with the child within the six-month period prior to the filing of the action or who has consistently maintained or attempted to maintain the parental relationship since residing with the child;

(d) a biological parent who is not a legal parent but who has an agreement with a legal parent under which he or she reserved some parental rights or responsibilities;

(e) an individual allocated custodial responsibility or decision making responsibility regarding the child under an existing parenting plan.

 

[13] See, E. Gary Spitko, The Constitutional Function of Biological Paternity and Evidence of the Biological Mother’s Consent to the Biological Father’s Co-Parenting of her Child, 48 Ariz. L. Rev. 97, 104 (2006) in which the author theorizes that the first constitutional parent is the mother who gives birth, and as such she enjoys the right to determine who shall be allowed to become the child’s second constitutional parent.  And, while intriguing, the debate about whether a child can have more than two parents is beyond the scope of this article.  However, see Smith v. Cole, 553 So. 2d 847 (La. 1989), Jacob v. Schultz-Jacob, 923 A. 2d 473 (Pa. 2007), and  K.A.S. v. J.L.W. 2007 WL 3197752 (Del. Fam. Ct. 2007) where courts have recognized more than two parents.

 

[14] Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989).  Child was born May, 1981 while mother was married and living with Gerald D.  Gerald D. was listed on child’s birth certificate as father.  During the first three years after child’s birth, mother and child lived with Gerald (mother’s husband) and Michael H.  Michael held child out as his own, and was determined with 98.07% probability to be child’s genetic father.  In 1982, Michael filed a filiation action in California to establish paternity.  Child, through her court appointed guardian ad litem, cross claimed that child was entitled to maintain filial relationships with both Michael and Gerald.  The trial court’s decision to grant Gerald’s motion for summary judgment and deny Michael and child’s petitions for visitation was affirmed.

[15] See, e.g., where fathers preserved relationships in Matter of R.E., 642 So.2d 889 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1994) where a father from Indiana executed an >authentic’ Act of Acknowledgment, filed his opposition to the adoption and filed with the Louisiana putative father registry within 3.5 weeks of birth in 6/94 (3 weeks after notice of >surrender’).  The appellate court reversed the termination of father’s parental rights and granted him an opportunity to be heard on whether he should raise the child.  It is not disclosed how father knew to file in Louisiana.  And, in In re Adoption of Holt, 599 N.E.2d 812 (Ohio App.3d 1991) the court dismissed a petition for adoption on the grounds that father filed an objection within 30 days of receiving notice of the proceeding, even though it was after child was placed for adoption and after the petition was filed (May, 1990), because father lived with mother and child for a year after birth, providing care and support for child, and, because father did not receive notice within 30 days of the filing for adoption.

 

But, see, where father did not preserve his opportunity to establish a relationship in Adoption of O.M., 87 Cal. Rptr.3d 135 (Cal. App.4th 2009).  About a week after learning of the pregnancy, father was arrested on a parole violation and spent 4 months in jail.  He maintained some contact with mother but did not provide material support.  After father’s release until he was again arrested, 8/06, mother avoided father just before the birth, 9/06.  On child’s birth day, father asked the court to determine he was the father and to halt the adoption during the paternity determination.  Two weeks later adoptive parents petitioned for adoption, unaware of father’s interest.  While the adoption was pending, father pled guilty to charges stemming from his arrest, receiving a sentence of 12 years incarceration.  The court concluded that mother’s refusal to communicate played only a small role in father’s failure to provide Aemotional, financial, medical or other assistance during pregnancy.@  Id. at 141.

[16]  Delaware enacted the 2002 version of the Uniform Parentage Act effective January 1, 2004 almost in its entirety (chapter 8, gestational agreements, was not enacted). Citations for simplicity are to the Delaware Code alone.

 

[17] 13 Del. C. ‘8-204.  Father is a presumed father if the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the termination of the marriage by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce. The result may very well be different without the UPA.  See, in Matter of Raquel Marie X., where father’s right to veto the adoption was reversed on appeal even though he held the child out as his own and married mother three months after child was placed for adoption and five months after birth, 150 A.D. 2d 23, (N.Y. A.D. 2 Dept, Sept. 11, 1989) rev’d in 559 N.E. 2d 418 (N.Y. July 10, 1990) because the marriage did not occur prior to the child’s birth.

[18]  ‘8-102(17) “record” means data inscribed on a tangible medium and stored in a retrievable form.

 

[19] Delaware amended ‘8-204 to add recognition of a de facto parent in 2009 in response to a Delaware Supreme Court ruling that found adopting the UPA overturned prior case law recognizing de facto parentage.

 

[20] 13 Del. C. ‘8-302.

[21] For more mutations on denial, see, ‘3-303.  For example, if the presumed father has previously acknowledged paternity, the previous acknowledgment must have been rescinded.

[22] And some commentators argue that mothers should be compelled to disclose their pregnancies, an obligation that now only extends in some jurisdictions to married mothers.  Parness, supra at note 4, p. 94, footnote 267.

 

[23] Michigan appears to have one of the earliest, if not the first, putative father registry, currently found at Mich. Comp. Laws ‘710.33, first promulgated in 1939.  It provides that Abefore the birth of a child born out of wedlock, a person claiming under oath to be the father of the child may file a verified notice of intent to claim paternity with the court in any county of this state.@  In Mary Beck, Toward a National Putative Father Registry Database, 2002 Harv. J. of L. and Pub. Pol. 1031 32 states with putative father registries are listed beginning at page 1080.  The Uniform Parentage Act provides in chapter four for registration of putative fathers.  In addition to the states listed in Beck, Delaware (2004), North Dakota and Washington have enacted the UPA, but North Dakota appears to have omitted the sections pertaining to registration.  To receive notice of a pending adoption under the UPA, father must register within 30 days after or before birth of the child, ‘402(a).

 

As of December 30, 2009, no one was listed on the Delaware registry; the Office of Vital Statistics removes registrants one year after the date of birth pursuant to §8-404.

[24] In re Adoption of Reeves, 831 S.W. 2d 607 (Ark. 1992). Although the trial court found biological father established a relationship with his son, he was not entitled to notice of mother’s and step-father’s petition for adoption because he failed to file with the state’s putative father registry; mother and step-father’s falsely sworn statement in their petition for adoption that the natural father was unknown was insufficient to persuade a majority of the court to vacate the adoption decree.  Mother and step-father petitioned one year after their marriage, and approximately three years after the child’s birth.

 

[25] Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983).  Child was born Nov., 1976.

[26] New York provided notice of an adoption proceeding to fathers adjudicated as such by a New York, or other state court; fathers listed on birth certificates; those who lived with mother and child and held themselves out as the father; those who married the mother within six months of birth; and, those identified by mothers in a sworn written statement.

[27] Ex parte S.C.W., 826 So. 2d 844 (Ala. 2001).  Child was born in October, 1998 and adoptive parents selected by birth mother took custody immediately after birth.

[28] A search for putative father registry cases turns up a larger number of cases in the southwest than in eastern state. See, Beck, Toward a National Putative Father Registry Database, note 23 above, which proposes a national registry.

 

[29] 740 P.2d 292 (Ut. App. 1987).  The pertinent statute required father to file notice of his intent to support the child, before birth or before child is relinquished or placed with an agency, or prior to the filing of a petition by a person to whom mother has relinquished child for adoption.  Father filed an acknowledgment of paternity with the Utah Bureau of Vital Statistics the afternoon of the birth before child left the hospital.  Although father missed the deadline for filing his notice, i.e., before the filing of a petition for adoption, the majority found that strict application of the statute to invalidate father’s Aacknowledgment of paternity would impermissibly violate [father’s] constitutional rights under both the Utah and the United States Constitutions.@  Id. at 297.

[30] Heidbreder v. Carton, 645 N.W.2d 355 (Minn. 2002).  The Minnesota statute requires a father to file before or within 30 days after birth of the child.

 

In Delaware, the Office of Vital Statistics too will deny a request for registration if the form is not completed within 30 days of the child’s birth; it will also deny registration if the form is not notarized, or if paternity is already established for the child, e.g., by way of acknowledgment.  Delaware also affords a registrant the opportunity to rescind his registration for notice of an adoption proceeding.

[31] H.U.F. v. W.P.W., 203 P.3d 943 (Utah 2009).  Father registered in Arizona in 2005; child was born in 2006 in Utah.  There was some question about whether father knew or should have known that mother had moved to Utah.

[32] Hylland v. Doe, 867 P. 2d 551 (Or. App. 1994).  Child was born in 1991.

[33] The Minnesota court in Heidbreder took note, however, that father also failed to file with the putative father registries in Iowa and in Illinois where father believed mother had moved.  Father sought advice from an Iowa attorney, but apparently did not discuss the possibility of adoption because of mother’s statement that she would not place the child for adoption.  In addition, father >only’ sought to find mother by asking her friends and family, all of whom refused to reveal her location, rather than hiring a private detective.

[34] For example, pursuant to Title 13, Chapter 8 of the Delaware Code (UPA) effective January 1, 2004.

 

[35] §6-201(a)(6) provides that having sexual intercourse within the state and the child may have been conceived by that act is sufficient for Delaware to have personal jurisdiction over a parent under UIFSA.

 

[36] Delaware, too, subjects acknowledged parents to all of the “… rights and duties of a parent,“ 13 Del.C. §8-305, which includes the duty of support, 13 Del.C. § 501.  And, the notice to parties on the form published by the Division of Child Support Enforcement specifically states “[t]his Acknowledgement establishes the duty of both parents to support the child.  Based on this Acknowledgement, Family Court may order either parent to pay child support and provide medical support without additional legal proceedings to determine who the parent is.”  Interestingly, the statutory periods for adjudicating parentage promulgated under the UPA were recently extended in Delaware for “reconsideration” when the child has extraordinary medical needs, where a wife fails to disclose that a child born during the marriage is not her husband’s, where all parties agree, and where the best interest of the child otherwise demands.

 

[37] Oddly, in an even earlier proceeding for custody/visitation, putative father had asserted that he was the father and entitled to contact.  After mother’s petition for child support was served, however, father had little or no contact with the child and essentially no contact with mother.

[38] 722 So. 2d 490 (Miss. 1998), implied overruling on other grounds recognized in Adams v. Homecrafters, Inc., 744 So.2d 736 (Miss. 1999).

[39] Kessel v. Leavitt, 511 S.E.2d 720 (W.Va. 1998).  Child was born July 24, 1991 and released to the adoptive parents from the hospital.

[40] The state court termed the action an Ainverse@ paternity petition to distinguish it from the normal paternity petition filed by the mother or a state agency against an alleged father.  Father initiated the paternity proceeding and requested an injunction June 3, 1991 in West Virginia.  Service on Anne was attempted at her brother’s residence.  The petition was faxed to Anne’s California counsel on June 21, 1991.  At an ex parte hearing on June 26, 1991 the court entered a temporary injunction prohibiting Anne from placing the unborn child for adoption.  The judge also ordered notice of the order and petition to be served on Anne by publication.  An Oregon couple initially interested in adopting withdrew their interstate application when they learned of the West Virginia litigation from Anne’s California counsel.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *