Notice to Unmarried Father Required Before Baby Can Be Adopted? Sometimes.

An adoption agency notified a biological father that his baby was going to be adopted.

That was how the biological father allegedly first learned of the child’s existence.

By that time, the baby was two months old and had been living since he was three days old with the family that planned to adopt him.

Upon learning of the boy, the father sought custody of his son.

But the New Mexico trial court terminated his parental rights on the grounds that he had abandoned the baby and his mother, freeing the baby up to be adopted.

On appeal, the ruling was reversed and the father’s parental rights restored.

The case was remanded for a custody determination, but appeals are on the way.

Read more in this Albuquerque Journal article: Birth Dad’s Lawsuit Could Alter N.M. Adoptions; Father Is Seeking Custody of Child.

The New Mexico ruling could have a chilling effect on adoption in the state, to the detriment of would-be adoptive parents and, at least arguably, children awaiting adoption.

But what about father’s rights, especially where the father allegedly did not even know about the child?

One measure that several states, including Florida, have taken to aid fathers in protecting their parental rights is the creation of a registry in which unmarried, potential fathers may log each partner with whom they have the potential to have fathered a child.

Timely registrants have rights to notice and to consent to any adoption of their child.

Failure to register before a termination of parental rights case is filed waives any rights the father may have had.

This approach balances all of the interests involved.

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Men’s Groups Lobbying to Challenge Prior Paternity Support Judgments – With Increasing Success

According to an American Bar Association article, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 led to many poorly educated, low income men being on the hook for supporting children who were not really theirs.

The statute paved the way for states providing public assistance to mothers and their children to recover support from non-supporting fathers.

The article concludes that most alleged fathers lose their cases by default when they don’t appear, or from ignorance when they do appear.

The authors condemn the statute and propose that the federal government act to ensure that paternity be confirmed by DNA testing before support orders are entered.

The article does not appear to address defendant / respondent fathers who completely ignore child support proceedings against them – including orders to submit to DNA testing, and actual fathers who simply resent or don’t want to pay support for their children and will not play by the rules.

Read more in this Baltimore Sun opinion piece: Changes opened a paternity-fraud trap for men.

Florida has recently joined the ranks of states which have introduced a measure permitting non-fathers to disestablish or overturn mistaken paternity judgments previously validly entered.

This is a sharp departure from all other types of legal cases, where a judgment is final (except for an appeal), so long as the defendant / respondent had proper notice of the case against him and the resulting opportunity to defend against a judgment being entered.

Relief under this new Florida law is barred, however, where the father failed to comply during the original paternity proceedings with an order to submit to DNA testing.

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Domestic Abuse with a High Tech Twist

A woman’s estranged husband hid a cell phone in her car’s dashboard. It wasn’t an ordinary cell phone for ordinary use though.

The cell phone was wired so that it would charge off her car’s battery. And turn on when the ignition was turned on.

The phone transmitted its location to a website where the husband could obtain it.

The phone also accepted incoming calls, so that the husband could hear what went on in the car.

When police arrested the husband in his home, they found keys to his wife’s new house locks, and printouts obtained from spyware planted on her computer.

This is the modern face of stalking and domestic abuse.

Read more in this Washington State HeraldNet article: As stalkers go high-tech, victims must keep up.

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Man Goes on Hunger Strike Against … Child Support

An upstate New York man has gone on a hunger strike as a matter of principle … He is protesting child support obligations.

The man allegedly owes $60,000 in back support.

The court was reportedly ready to give him probation – but he chose jail to attract publicity to his cause.

The man is on a feeding tube in the jail’s infirmary.

Read more in this Syracuse Post-Standard article, Inmate: I don’t recommend . . . this.

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Abucted Girl Returns By Way of Foster Care in Canada and then US

A court gave her father sole custody of her. Her mother then allegedly abducted her to Canada.

The now 7 year old girl is back in Pennsylvania – in foster care.

It seems that when her mother lost custody, she accused the girl’s father of sexually abusing her. Authorities here determined that the allegations were unfounded.

But when the mother was arrested, the child was placed in foster care in Canada. And once she was in foster care, the Canadian child protective services required assurances to release the child.

So the girl’s father consented to her going into foster care in Pennsylvania, so that she could be returned to the US.

The father awaits a hearing to obtain an order that will send his daughter home to him.

Read more in this Philadelphia Inquirer article: 7-year-old back in Montco.

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More Sealed South Florida Cases Found Omitted From Public Docket

I previously posted on South Florida Super-Sealing: Secret Dockets Filled with Hidden, Secret Cases.

Now the Miami Herald reports that an additional 300+ cases in neighboring Broward County have been identified which were not only sealed but also omitted from the public docket listing.

Many of the cases were said to be divorces and other lawsuits concerning politicians, judges, politicians and other powerful and influential people.

Again, no one can explain why the cases were off the docket. But they are reportedly back on the docket now.

Read more in this Miami Herald article: 300 more civil cases uncovered in Broward court.

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Alleged Child Abductors for President and Minister of Justice?

Back in May, I posted regarding a Pregnant Woman Jailed for Abducting Children Abroad.

The children have now been returned to their father in Canada, in accordance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The father has reportedly maintained all along that the mother has turned the case into a media circus, exploiting their children and religious bias to try their case in the court of public opinion.

The mother, who remains in prison in Canada, is allegedly running for the Presidency in France.

Her current, common law husband is reportedly running for the office of Minister of Justice there.

“Together, [they] are writing a book critical of Gettliffe’s treatment in Canada, which they have tentatively titled In The Hell of the Canadian Prisons.”

There is no indication whether the criminal charges pending against them may impede their chances of winning at the polls.

Certainly, this is not the typical child custody case. Not even the typical international child kidnapping case.

Read more in this in-depth Vancouver Sun article: Father reconnecting with his children.

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PA Family Court Will Be Picketed for Allegedly Failing to Protect Kids

Pennsylvania has a non-profit association called Safe Child Custody Support Group.

The organization was reportedly founded in response to what it characterized as “dangerous and often bizarre rulings” in Monroe County, PA Family Courts.

The Group has scheduled a protest for September 2nd, which will be joined by a children’s civil rights organization, Heads Held High.

The founder of the child custody support association had this to say:

“This is a court, where psychologist recommendations are ignored. Where child molesters are allowed overnight visits and judges throw common sense out the window along with children’s welfare.”

Read more in this eMediaWire article: Group Protesting Court Rulings that Endanger Children.

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Child Abuse May Come in Surprising Shapes

A Lakeland, Florida woman took her now 18 year old daughter to doctors, labs and hospitals nearly 400 times over a 5 year period.

The same woman took her 17 month old baby to the doctor about 40 times since her birth.

This family is very unfortunate – but not in the way that one might leap to conclude.

All those medical visits and tests, some of them invasive, were reportedly absolutely unnecessary.

Now the mother has been arrested on charges of child abuse.

All three of the woman’s children have been placed with a family friend, with the mother allowed supervised visitation only.

Physicians speculate that the mother suffers from Munchausen by proxy, a condition that drives mothers to pursue attention by subjecting their children to unnecessary medical examinations.

In some instances (although not this one), the mothers actually do harm to their children to perpetuate the diagnosis and treatment process.

Oddly, the mother only did this with her two daughters and not with her son.

Read more in this Lakeland Ledger article: Munchausen: When Care Becomes Crime.

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