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Adoption and the rights of unmarried fathers

Unmarried fathers can establish their parental rights even if the mother of their child objects. By proactively establishing paternity, a father will be able to play a role in the raising of his or her child in most cases. He will also be able to approve of or stop the adoption of his child.

In order to establish paternity, the father will usually need to file a civil lawsuit that incorporates DNA testing. A successful DNA test will establish irrefutable biological evidence that the man is the father of his child. Once paternity has been established, the father will get to voice his opinion in adoption decisions.

However, if a father waits too long, then he could lose his ability to establish parental rights, as waiting might serve to show the court a lack of commitment on the part of the father. Especially if the mother announces that she wants her child to be adopted during pregnancy, if the father doesn't come forward early on, then it could affect his parental rights.

In some cases, fathers might not have known that they had a baby on the way. When this happens, a father might miss out on having his say when it comes to an adoption decision. Also, if the father becomes aware of his child later, after the adoption has already occurred, he could face difficult legal challenges in obtaining parental rights at that time. This is particularly the case if courts deem that the father's lack of knowledge about his child was the father's fault.

If you are the father of a child that could be put up for adoption, you will want to take legal action to establish your paternity rights as soon as you possibly can. You will also want to take a proactive role in helping to support your child financially and as a caretaker as much as you can.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Rights: Unmarried Fathers and Adoption," accessed March 24, 2017

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