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Fathers’ Rights in Adoption Proceedings

Knowing your rights as a parent during adoption proceedings is crucial, particularly because it can determine the entire future for your child by severing ties with you as the birth parent.

Typically, unmarried biological fathers must demonstrate a commitment to parenthood by establishing legal paternity rights in accordance with the law in order to preserve their rights in these processes. However, ultimately, Florida courts will always be concerned with the best interest of the child in making their decisions.

Types of Adoptions

There are four types of adoptions provided for by Florida state law. These include adoption by:

  • Agency or intermediary;
  • Stepparent;
  • Close relative; and
  • Adult.

Adoptions can be open (where a certain degree of information is shared) or closed (where there is complete privacy for both the adoptive parents and biological parents). Adoptive parents do not necessarily have to be Florida residents in order to adopt.

State Paternity Rights

Florida protects the rights of the biological parents by requiring consent to adoption or affidavit of nonpaternity, or, alternatively, proof that the biological parent has abandoned, abused, or neglected the child, or otherwise abandoned their parental rights.

To ensure these rights, paternity must be established through the state Putative Father Registry in order for the court to require consent prior to adoption. The claim of paternity must be filed before a petition for termination of parental rights is filed. One he is registered, a father has a right to be served with a Notice of Intended Adoption which advises him of his rights with respect to the child.

Specifically, consent must be received from the father if he was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born, the child is his by adoption, the child has been determined by the court to be his child prior to the petition being filed for termination of parental rights, or if the father has acknowledged that he is the father of minor through the Registry, as required by state law.

Finalizing Adoption

Adoptive parents are not eligible to finalize the adoption until 30 days after parental rights have officially been terminated (or the child has spent at least 90 days in the adoptive home) if the adoption is through an agency or intermediary. Although stepparents and relatives can, conversely, immediately finalize an adoption, if the child is twelve or older, he or she must first provide their consent to the adoption. In addition, all adoption placements through an agency or intermediary are reported to the Department of Children and Family Services.

Although biological parents have a right to privacy, adoption professionals will typically try to get as much information about a child’s background from the biological parents as possible in order to assist the child, in case that information is needed (for medical reasons, etc.).

Contact Us Re: Paternity Rights and Adoption

Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. has experience handling paternity cases and ensuring that fathers obtain fair custody and child support arrangements. If you have concerns about paternity and/or related adoption proceedings, contact our offices in Fort Lauderdale to schedule a consultation.

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