Fathers in Family Court: Paternity & More - English
- What is paternity?
- How do I establish paternity?
- Why do I need to establish paternity?
- How do I become a notice father?
- What does it mean be a notice father?
- I think I’m a “notice father,” but I didn’t receive notice. What can I do?
- I think I’m a “notice father,” but I didn’t receive notice when the mother’s rights were being terminated. Why not?
- What can I do if I receive notice that the mother’s rights are being terminated?
- What are my rights as a “notice father” when it comes to the adoption on my child?
- What if I’m a “notice father” who has always been there for my child and I’ve received notice that my child is being placed for adoption?
- What is the Putative Father Registry?
- How do I register with the Putative Father Registry?
- What information will I need to give to the Registry?
- How much does it cost to register?
- If I register, can I take it back?
- Why should I file?
- Will I have to pay child support if I register?
- What if the mother lives in another state?
1 If you are married to the mother at the time your child is born, you are automatically considered the legal father. You do not have to establish paternity in court.
2 If you sign an acknowledgement of paternity (ak-NOWL-edj-ment of pa-TER-ni-tee) after your child is born, you have established paternity. The acknowledgement of paternity is a form that you sign, usually at the hospital, stating that you are the father.
3 If you file a petition (pe-TI-shun) for paternity in Family Court and get an order of filiation (OR-der of fil-ee-AY-shun) from a judge, you have established paternity.
If paternity has not been established, a father does not have the same rights as a mother. Depending on the situation, some fathers who have not established paternity have some rights. These fathers are sometimes called putative (pyoo-tuh-tiv), unwed, non-marital, or notice fathers.
In this guide, these fathers will be called “notice fathers.”
Your name is on the birth certificate (This is NOT enough to establish paternity.); or
If you are openly living with your child and the mother of your child and holding yourself out to be the father; or
If you were married to the mother of your child and got divorced no more than six months before your child was born; or
If you registered with the Putative Father Registry (see below for information about the Registry).
Receiving notice means being told about the case in writing, typically by getting a copy of a petition that has been filed in court. You should get it at least 20 days before the court date. It should give information about the time, date, and purpose of the case you are being informed about. If ACS or an adoption agency is unable to personally give you the copy of the petition, the petition can be sent by certified mail to the last address that they have for you.
The court did not know where you were.
The court may not have known who you were because your name was not on the birth certificate.
The court may not have known who you were because the mother did not identify you.
The court may not have known who you were because you did not register with the Putative Father Registry (see below for more information about the Registry).
You were notified when the child first entered foster care, but did not go to court at that time.
You’ve been financially supporting your child.
You’ve visited your child at least monthly or,
If you have been unable to visit or were prevented from it, you have regularly communicated with your child or the person or agency with legal custody of your child.
You may also have the right to veto an adoption if you lived openly with your child and the mother of your child for at least 6 months during the one year period before your child was placed for adoption.
If your child is under the age of six months, you may be able to veto the adoption if you can prove to the court that:
You lived openly with your child or the mother of your child for an uninterrupted period of at least 6 months right before your child was placed for adoption and held yourself out to be the father.
You paid a reasonable sum toward the medical, hospital, or nursing expenses for the mother’s pregnancy and the birth of your child.
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You may file with the registry either before or after the child is born.
Yes. You can remove your name from the registry at any time. If you remove your name it will be as if your name was never on the registry in the first place. This means that you give up all of the rights you got by registering.
You might consider taking your name off if you no longer believe that you are the father of the child and/or you do not want to be notified of the kinds of cases that are discussed above.