The Putative Father Registry
June 11, 2015
In Florida, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. But for unmarried fathers, getting parental rights is not so simple. They must assert their parental rights. Florida’s Putative Father Registry lets an unmarried man who believes he is the father of a child preserve any legal rights he has. Most importantly, it gives unwed biological fathers the right to have notice of any proposed adoption.
A putative father, or unmarried biological father, is a man who has fathered a child and who was not married to the mother either at the time of conception or at the time of birth. A biological father is a putative father if he has not been adjudicated to be the child’s legal father and is not named on the child’s birth certificate.
In Florida, the Putative Father Registry lets unmarried men who think they are the fathers of children born out of wedlock retain any legal rights they might have to the child. Filing with the Registry is asserting a claim of paternity. For a putative father to have the right to notice of any adoption, he must file with the registry. Then if adoption proceedings begin, the putative father must be notified and given the opportunity to object to the adoption.
Filing with the registry also means that the putative father is notifying the state of his intent to pay child support if paternity is established. The father also consents to DNA testing if any party, including an adoption agency, requests it. If the father does not file, he is barred from later bringing a claim to determine paternity.
Filing with the registry does not mean that the father gets to be listed on the birth certificate. For that to happen, the father must get either the mother’s consent or a court order. Also, filing does not establish paternity for timesharing and child support issues.
How to File
To file with the registry, the putative father must file a Claim of Paternity form with the Office of Vital Statistics. The form includes identification information for the putative father and the mother, information about the conception, and any known identifying information about the child. There is a $9 filing fee.
The father may file anytime up to the date of the child’s birth, but cannot file after the date when a petition to terminate parental rights has been filed.
A putative father may revoke his claim to paternity by filing an Update to Claim of Paternity form. He may also use this form to revise the information on the filing, since fathers are required to keep the Office of Vital Statistics updated on their addresses.
A putative father may revoke his filing at any time up to the child’s birth. If the court determines that he is not the father, or that he has no parental rights, then his name will be removed from the registry.
Searching the Registry
In any adoption proceeding or any termination of parental rights, the Putative Father Registry must be searched. The registry is confidential, and only certain parties may search it, including adoption agencies, the putative father, the birth mother named in the registry, and the court.
Paternity issues can be complex, and determining paternity can have lifelong consequences for parents and children. If you have a paternity issue, please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for an initial consultation.