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What Are A Father’s Rights?


The “birds and the bees” make it quite clear. It takes two to conceive a child. Admittedly, as the father, you will not have to carry the baby in your womb for nine months. And, you certainly won’t have to experience the agony of childbirth. But, as the baby’s biological father and contributor of fifty percent of her DNA, you must have some parental rights, don’t you?

Quite simply put, your parental rights are dependent on a number of factors. One being your ability to effectively parent your child. It’s a well known fact that toddlers can be difficult to parent for many reasons, so resources that can help you be the best parent possible for your toddler are extremely valuable.

The Definition of Father

You may think you know the definition of the word “father,” but you will be surprised to learn that it is defined in different ways by different states. According to “What About the Birth Father?,” several states consider someone to be a father if one of the following criteria is met–the man was married to the mother when the baby was born or no more than 300 days after the end of the marriage, his name is on the birth certificate, or he has acknowledged that he is the birth father in writing. If none of these criteria are met, you may wish to look into becoming a “putative” father.

Putative Father

If you father a child who is born out of wedlock, but do not fall under the legal definition of “father,” some states will enable you to claim certain rights as the baby’s “putative father.”

In fact, many states have introduced registries for putative fathers that are designed to keep them abreast of any petitions or legal proceedings filed regarding their child.


If an adoption agency is trustworthy, they will go to great lengths to locate the birth father before entering into an adoption plan. Why? The truth is that if your baby is put up for adoption without your consent, you may have legal recourse.

According to “Understanding the Birth Father’s Rights,” an agency should inform you of the adoption plans and secure your agreement or, if your whereabouts are unknown, they may check registries, and take state-dictated measures to locate you such as posting adoption notices. It is important to note, however, that the measures required vary greatly between states.

The Courts

With more children being born to single moms, there has been an increase in fathers seeking to establish their parental rights through the court system. And, as the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s “The Rights of Unmarried Fathers” states, in several cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutional protection of a father’s parental rights when he has established a substantial relationship with his child as demonstrated by his being involved or attempting to be involved in the child’s upbringing.

Blocking Adoption

If you have made every attempt to financially support your child, develop a relationship with them, taken steps to be legally recognized as the child’s father, and demonstrated a commitment to being a parent, you may be able to successfully block an adoption. You should note, however, that your success will be affected by what state you live in and the courts. As “Unmarried Fathers and Adoption” warns, an inability to provide support during the pregnancy and after the baby is born or a problem with alcohol or drugs could lead to your application being denied.

If you want to ensure that your parental rights are protected, it is important that you secure the legal counsel of a professional who is trained in your state’s family laws. And demonstrate that you are going to be an awesome dad.

Have you successfully blocked an adoption? We’d love to hear your story.

What Are A Father’s Rights?
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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