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PATERNITY

If you are a pregnant and unmarried woman, and the father refuses to acknowledge paternity, what can you do?

Hopefully (assuming the person is not abusive or otherwise a danger) you can convince the boyfriend to acknowledge paternity. He can do this by signing an acknowledgement of paternity at the child's birth. This means that the boyfriend admits that he is the child's father. If the boyfriend denies paternity or is not responsive, you can serve that boyfriend with notice of paternity and financial responsibility. You can do this by contacting a local office of child support enforcement. The agency will work with you in helping to establish paternity. The agency will initiate court proceedings on your behalf that require the boyfriend to submit to a paternity test. If the test determines he is the father of the child, then the agency can initiate action to help you obtain child support.

If you think you are the father of a child, but you are not married and the mother refuses to let you see the baby, is there anything you can do?

If the mother of the child will recognize that you are the baby's father, then you and she can sign an "acknowledgement of paternity" which takes care of the issue. If the mother will not recognize you as the baby's father, then you will have to file suit in court to establish paternity. You would file suit in court, contending that you are the father. You would seek a paternity test that will determine whether you are the baby's father. Once your paternity has been established, then you can exercise your rights to visitation as the baby's father. Admittedly, this process can be a difficult one, particularly without the cooperation of the child's mother.

ADOPTION

What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal process in which a person or persons become the legal parents or guardians of a child who is not their birth child. Once the adoption process is complete, the adoptive parents are the full and legal parents of that child—just as if they were the birth parents.

What methods of adoptions are there?

There are agency adoptions and private adoptions. Agency adoptions involve either a public or private adoption that is licensed by the state. A private adoption involves the parties themselves handling the adoption process. People wishing to adopt contact a lawyer who then facilitates the adoption process. Court approval is needed for private adoptions as well as agency adoptions.

Who must consent to an adoption?

The adopted child (if over a certain age— 14 in several states), the adoptee's mother and the adoptee's father or putative (presumed) father if the putative father has made efforts to be included in the putative father registry.

Can a minor birth mother consent to an adoption?

Many states require a minor mother to have a guardian ad litem appointed by the court before she can give proper consent to an adoption.

Do birth parents always have to consent to an adoption?

Most of the time they do, but their consent is not required or needed if such birth parents have been deemed unfit by a court. States have child protection acts which are designed to remove children from unfit and unsafe parents.

After going to an adoption agency, a hopeful parent must also get the approval of a judge to finalize the process (iStock).

After going to an adoption agency, a hopeful parent must also get the approval of a judge to finalize the process (iStock).

Can birth mothers withdraw consent to an adoption?

In most states birth mothers can withdraw their consent to an adoption though there are fairly strict time limits. For example, in the state of Alaska a birth mother cannot withdraw her consent after there has been a court decree authorizing the adoption. A birth mother can withdraw her consent up to 10 days after giving it.

 
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