Putative Fatherhood: Protecting Your Rights

Many states, including Florida, provide this type of a public registry in which an unmarried man who believes that he is the father of a child, may register and claim to be the father of this child. In Florida, the registry is called the Putative Father Registry and is maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics.

The Putative Father Registry is intended to provide legal recognition to the biological father of a child, provided the father registers within the applicable time-frame. This is why it is so important for potential fathers to register whenever they think a woman they had intercourse with might be pregnant. A putative father that has properly registered in the registry can usually object to the placement of his child for adoption, if he meets certain requirements that are also imposed on him by state law. Fathers who register will be notified if their children are put up for adoption by the mother. They are not guaranteed any rights in contesting the decision by the mother, nor are they guaranteed the ability to adopt or gain custody of the child, but they will be notified and given the right to appear in court to testify about the child’s best interests.

Failure to register can result in someone else being named as the father of your child. For example, in Florida, a man is presumed to be the biological father if the child was conceived or born while that man was married to the mother. In this situation, if a man has intercourse with a married woman resulting in the birth of child, that woman’s husband will be established as the father of the child. Registering with the Putative Father Registry ensures that the actual biological father will get notice if the parents place that child for adoption.

Other instance where a man is presumed to be the father of a child include where the man has adopted the child, the court has established that a man is the father of a child, and when the man has filed an affidavit of paternity by acknowledging paternity in conjunction with the child’s mother at the hospital at the time of child’s birth or by subsequently filing an acknowledgement of paternity in conjunction with the child’s mother with the State Office of Vital Statistics (both of which constitutes the establishment of paternity as provided for in section 742.10, Florida Statutes).

The following states also have a Putative Father Registry: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. This list is intended to assist parties in starting the process. Owenby Law, LLC and its attorneys do not represent that this list is complete, accurate or up-to-date.