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Help! I'm the father of a baby up for adoption in Florida!

When parents in Florida don't agree on paternity, the laws about putting the baby up for adoption can be confusing.

This blog post will examine some questions unmarried mothers and fathers often have about paternity rights during the adoption process.

Does the father even get notified?

Many adoptions in Florida take place without the biological father being aware of the process. In most cases, it is because the father has chosen not to be involved with the mother and baby, or the mother has terminated parental rights.

Going through the adoption process without notifying the father carries legal risks of a potential paternity lawsuit that can put the child in the middle. To avoid the risks of litigaiton the mother and the adoption agency should take these common sense steps:

1. If the whereabouts of the biological father are known, notify him of the intent to adopt and request his participation in the process

2. If unknown, try to locate him and inform him of the plan. Work with the adoption agency if possible. 

3. Get written consent from the biological father regarding his wishes to participate in the adoption proceedings

How do I make sure I'm notified?

If you know or suspect you are the biological father of a child, the State of Florida Department of Human Services provides an opportunity to register. Once registered, you will be notified of any future adoption proceedings that are set in motion by the mother.

Registering does not mean you will be granted custodial or visitation rights with the child. That will require a separate court proceeding. And it doesn't mean you avoid a potential paternity lawsuit to challenge your claim. But it does mean you will be notified by the state and will have an opportunity to participate in the proceedings or challenge it through the courts. 

Know your rights as a father. Follow through on your responsibilities.

Claiming paternity means you will also be claiming responsibility. In Florida, that will almost certainly mean child support obligations. But it will also mean you have the right to petition the courts for a judgment granting you parenting time to become part of your child's life.

Get legal help

If you need legal help with your paternity matter in the Coral Gables area, call the Law Office of David B. Mitchell to learn about your options.

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