Now that it’s the 21st Century, we live in a day and age when it’s socially acceptable and almost “normal” for children to be born outside of marriage. After all, society has changed dramatically since women entered the workforce and started earning college degrees and climbing the corporate ladder next to their male counterparts.
More mothers moved away from being homemakers and this changed the way families operated, especially as working mothers no longer needed to rely on a man for financial support. As the family dynamics changed, mothers and fathers raised questions about the rights and responsibilities of unmarried fathers, which we’ll discuss below.
Are you a man who received a Notice of Alleged Paternity in the mail? If so, you probably have a lot of questions right about now. What does this notice mean? What happens if you ignore it? And what happens if you respond? Are you about to lose your parental rights forever?
Your Parental Rights Are at Risk
If you recently received a Notice of Alleged Paternity, the purpose of the notice is to inform you that the child’s mother is saying that you are the father of her child and that your parental rights will be terminated if you fail to respond to the court papers in 30 days.
“What if I don’t want my child to be adopted?” If you believe you are the child’s father and you receive the Notice of Alleged Paternity and you are against your child being adopted, you have to act fast. To contest the adoption, you are urged by the family courts to contact a lawyer for help protecting your father’s rights.
What if I Was Married to the Mother?
Were you married to the child’s mother who is named in the notice? If you were married to the child’s mother, you may have more rights than you think. Again, you want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. You have rights, but you must adhere to a short deadline to respond. You will need to hire an attorney to file papers with the court. A copy of those papers will have to be served to whoever served you the Notice of Alleged Paternity.
“What if I don’t think I’m the child’s father or what if I have no problem with the child being adopted?” is a question that many alleged fathers ask attorneys. If you don’t think you’re the child’s father or if you are not opposed to the child being adopted, you are not required to act. You can simply do nothing and the adoption process will proceed without your input. If the adoption is approved by the court, your parental rights will be terminated after the 30 days pass.
What if My Ex’s Partner Wants to Adopt My Child?
The most common form of adoption is stepparent adoption – that’s the case in California and throughout the United States. As such, it’s common for a custodial parent to remarry and have their new spouse live with them and essentially play the role of parent. Has this happened to you? Has your child been living with your ex and their new partner for over a year and now he or she is trying to legally adopt your child?
If your answer is “Yes,” the question is, how do you feel about your child being adopted by your ex’s new partner? Are you okay with it or are you not okay with it? If he or she were to prevail in court, you would lose the right to custody and visitation, but at the same time, you would no longer be on the hook for child support.
If you have not had contact with your child for over a year and you do not want your child to be adopted, time is limited. You must act quickly to object to the adoption. To contest the adoption, you are not advised to handle the case on your own. Instead, you should contact an attorney immediately for help.
Here’s what you need to know:
- You will have to file an objection in writing, which will inform the adoptive parents and their attorney, and the court that you are contesting the adoption.
- You will likely be contacted by a social worker who will ask you to sign a consent form.
- The adoptive parents may not take “no” for an answer. They may try to move to have your parental rights terminated, though it’s not guaranteed they’ll prevail.
- If you do agree to the adoption, you will need to sign a Consent to the Adoption Form. When you sign the form, a social worker will be with you as you sign it.
“If I let my child be adopted, do I still get to see them?” is a question that many fathers ask and understandably so! It depends on the adoptive parents and how they feel about it. Some adoptive parents encourage their adoptive children to have a relationship with their biological parent, while others are against it.
If the adoptive parents agree to let you be in the child’s life, you can sign what’s called a Post Adoption Contract Agreement. This agreement lets you have contact with your child while he or she is growing up.
“What if I’ve been raising my spouse’s child and I’m the one who wants to adopt him or her?” In that case, you will need the other parent’s consent. They will need to waive their parental rights and consent to the adoption. If the other parent objects to the adoption, it cannot go through unless you can prove that he or she abandoned their child or that they’re an alleged father.