Florida is one of 33 states that have what is known as a Putative Father Registry. The database allows a man who may be the biological father of a child born out of wedlock to be notified about pending adoption proceedings. While some may believe that such registries are a simple way to protect fathers’ rights, there are a number of problems that might limit their efficacy.
These registries have been in existence since the 1970s, but very few people take advantage of the system. In Florida, about 90,000 children were born out of wedlock, but only 47 men placed their name on the registry. Some may suggest that existence of the system and the lack of participation by eligible individuals might explain why courts could have a tendency to rule in favor of a mother placing a child up for adoption rather than a father who is offering to care for the child but failed to assert their rights within the prescribed time frame.
That tendency to take the side against a father may be flawed, however. A professor of law at Syracuse University suggests that many men who are looking to provide care for their children are unable to access the system effectively. The professor asserts that a number of issues, including the lack of uniformity and communication between registries in different states and the need for detailed information regarding the mother when filing, limit how useful and accessible the registry is to the men whose rights it is meant to protect.
Individuals in Florida are facing difficulty asserting their rights over their children might benefit from working with a family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to help a client understand their rights and obligations concerning a child.
Source: The Atlantic, “Sex and the Single Man: What If Your Partner Has a Kid?“, Kevin Maillard, April 21, 2014