What rights do Birth Fathers have in Florida?

In Florida, if a Birth Father is aware of the pregnancy and can prove that he has emotionally and financially supported the Birth Mother he has the right to contest the adoption. He may also elect to parent the child. However, if he was unaware of the pregnancy, because the Birth Mother kept this information from him, these conditions do not apply and the Court may award him custody of the child. If a Birth father fails to support the Birth Mother, and he knew of the pregnancy, the court can terminate his parental rights even if he protests the adoption.

In cases where the Birth Mother is aware of the identity of the Birth Father, steps have to be taken to locate him to ascertain whether or not he is willing to consent to the adoption. If the identified Birth Father states he is not the father he may sign an affidavit of non-paternity. In situations where the biological father refuses to cooperate, he is are served with a Notice of Intended Adoption, after which he will have 30 days to contest the adoption. If the Biological father wants to contest an adoption he must first register with the Putative Father Registry, and file an affidavit with the court. If he fails to contest the adoption the court will terminate his parental rights.

Unmarried biological fathers who are located and refuse to cooperate the Florida Supreme Court mandates he be served with a notice of the intended adoption plan. The Birth Father has a period of 30 days to indicate he intends to contest the adoption. He must register with the Putative Father Registry and file an affidavit with the court committing to certain obligations with respect to the child. If he fails to complete the required actions, in a timely manner, the Agency will seek the court’s determination that he has no rights with regards to the baby. If the unmarried biological father does complete the required actions, in a timely manner, his rights to Notice of the Adoption, and his consent to the adoption, is required just as if he were married to the birth mother. However, his failure to provide financial and emotional support to the birth mother during her pregnancy remains a basis for his Right to Consent to be waived, and again the court can elect to terminate his parental rights.

All adoption placements are “At-Risk.” In short, this means Adoptive Parents may have to return the child to the Biological Parents should Termination of Parental Rights or Finalization be denied by the court. Additionally, Birth Parents and legal parents have a minimum period of 1 year to challenge termination of parental rights and an adoption, but only if they can prove fraud, duress or other misconduct.