In a far-reaching case, the Florida Supreme Court has held that adoption agencies must notify unmarried biological fathers that their children are going to be placed for adoption and how to register in the state’s paternity registry to protect their rights. If the father still fails to register after thirty days, his parental rights may be terminated.
A statute imposing a time limit on biological fathers to assert their rights was intended to facilitate adoptions and give adoptive parents and the baby finality.
But there have nagging questions with regard to how many biological fathers are actually aware of paternity registries, both in Florida and in other states, let alone how to register with them.
In the case before the Court, the biological father promptly filed a paternity case in court, but failed to register with Florida’s paternity registry. The father maintained that he was unaware of the registry.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court for further fact-finding.