What is the Putative Father Registry?

A father standing by his car, waving goodbye to his child and the child's mother in front of their house.

There are many presumptions as to parentage of a child born in Florida, such as the woman who gives birth is automatically given parental rights, and if married the husband will automatically be deemed the legal father. However, there are no such rights for unmarried fathers, they must take affirmative action to be recognized as legal fathers to their child and in many cases, must file claims with the Putative Father Registry. If you believe that you are the father of a child, and are unmarried, speak to a child custody attorney to discuss the steps you will need to take to assert your rights in the child’s life.

As required by the Federal Social Security Act, each state is required to have a system in place for putative fathers to voluntarily acknowledge their relationship or paternity to a child born to an unmarried woman. Putative fathers are those who claim to be the father of a child born to an unmarried woman and their legal relationship to the child has yet to be established. Although most states only implement a hospital-based approach where a putative father may sign an affidavit acknowledging the paternity, other states, including Florida, also have implemented Putative Father Registries.

The Florida Putative Father registry is regulated by Florida Statute 63.054 and allows a putative father to indicate their intention to claim paternity over a child and protects their notice rights, should the child be involved in a court action. When you file an acknowledgement of paternity with the registry, you will receive notice of court proceedings regarding the child including adoptions and termination of parental rights. Filing this document with the registry only provides you with the right to notice, it does not initiate a paternity action and does not provide you with legal parental rights. Further, the putative father registry is confidential and filing a claim within the registry only requires is a one-time fee of $9. The only requirements of a putative father seeking to file a claim with the registry is that he believes he is the father of a child born to an unmarried woman, and the claim is filed anytime before a termination of parental rights is filed with the court. Further, if the putative father later wishes to revoke the claim he may do so up until the birth of the child. Therefore, it is imperative that you be certain of your parental connection and acknowledgement.

If an adoption or termination of parental rights action is initiated regarding the child you are required to receive notice of these proceedings. After notice, you may agree to the adoption or contest the action and seek to establish your legal rights to the child. The registry provides you with the ability to be notified and participate in the legal proceedings involving your child prior to an official determination being made. However, failure to take appropriate action within the time limits, will dissolve your possibility of obtaining legal parental rights regarding the child.  

Parenting is extremely important and a gift given to many. However, for some the road to being deemed a legal parent is more difficult than expected. If you are in this scenario, it is important to consult with an experienced lawyer to determine your rights and what actions you may need to take to proceed.

Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (800) 822-5170 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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