Putative Father Registry


The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed putative father's constitutional protection of parental rights when the father has established a substantial relationship with his child. A substantial relationship has been defined as a biological link between the child and putative father, when the father is committed to the responsibilities of parenthood and willing to participate in the child's raising.
The Court has not ruled about what putative father's need to do in order to protect their parental rights. Therefore each State has been left to determine how to protect a putative father's rights. There has been some progress in defining the rights of a father with the implementation of Putative Father Registries.
To ensure notice to putative fathers, some states have enacted putative father registries. The registries let adoption petitioners find putative fathers without having to rely on the mothers naming them. Essentially, putative fathers ensure their own notice by signing the registry.





Usually a father is supposed to be notified before his child can be adopted. But a father who isn’t married to the child’s mother may not be easy to find, or might not be legally recognized as the child’s father. The Putative Father Registry is a way for such fathers to make sure that they can protect their rights.

A “putative father” is a man who may be a child’s father, but who was not married to the child’s mother before the child is born and has not established the fact that he is the father in a legal proceeding. If the child’s mother wants to place the child for adoption, the putative father must take steps to show that he is the legal father of the child if he wants to have any say in the adoption.

A man who thinks he is the father of a child, and who wants to have a say in whether the child is adopted, should register with the Putative Father Registry. In fact, he should register even if he signed the child’s birth certificate (and even if he is under 18 years old).

After a father registers with the Putative Father Registry, the court will make sure he is notified if the child should be the subject of a pending adoption. When the father receives the “notice of pending adoption,” he can then appear before the court in the adoption to provide information about the child’s best interests.

You may register with the Putative Father Registry before or after the birth of the child. But in order to receive notice of pending adoption, you must first register no later then 30 days after the birth of the child.
But registering with Putative Father Registry is only one step in protecting a father’s rights. Fathers who register with the Putative Father Registry must also begin legal proceedings to establish paternity within 30 days of registering.

What happens if a man does not register with the Putative Father Registry?
If a man does not register with the Putative Father Registry before the child's birth or no later than 30 days after the child's birth, the child could be permanently adopted without the putative father's knowledge or consent.

If you do not register with the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of child’s birth, or if you do register but do not start legal proceedings to establish paternity within 30 days after that, the following may happen:
The court may rule that you have waived your rights, and permanently terminate your parental rights without notice; and
• Your child may be permanently adopted without your consent.


Ignorance of the pregnancy is no excuse for not signing the registry. The sexual act itself lets the adoption proceed without the putative father's consent if he has not signed the registry .