It’s not uncommon for children to be born out of wedlock. In fact, it’s becoming more and more frequent in today’s world. Reports show that about two-fifths of children are born to unmarried mothers. Unmarried birth parents present a difficult obstacle in the adoption industry.
While the rights and significance of the child’s biological mother are never in question, there is a resounding haze over those of the birth father. He seems to be the proverbial man behind the curtain. Each state has their own way of handling this. However, the state of New York specifically divides birth fathers into three separate categories.
The Empire State automatically assumed that a woman’s husband is the father of her child, and is considered a “consent father.” However, if the birth parents are unmarried when the child is born, he must meet a more difficult standard to establish himself as a “consent father.”
If the birth father is not married to the birth mother, and the child was placed before six months of age, he is required to take all necessary steps if he wants the opportunity to become a legal parent. For adoptions where the child was placed beyond six months of age, the birth father is required to have — at minimum — monthly contact with the child and/or legal parent, as well as pay child support.
If he so chooses, a consent father can prevent an adoption unless he has otherwise abandoned the child. That is, if he has not paid child support or has had little to no contact with either the child or the parent any time during the six months before an adoption petition has been filed. These actions must be fulfilled in order to maintain the status of consent father.
A consent father can sign his consent to the adoption. If he does not, the court will officially and personally serve him with a date to appear in court. Failure to appear on said date may allow the adoption to move forward without him. A consent father who attends and objects to the adoption will have a hearing scheduled to determine his rights with respect to the adoption.
Birth fathers who have filed an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, have their name on the birth certificate, or have already been deemed the father by the court are among those who are known as “notice fathers.” A notice father, in turn, has the right to be notified of the adoption and to have an opportunity to tell the court what he thinks is best for the child. However, a notice father cannot prevent an adoption.
Similar to that of a consent father, a notice father can sign his consent to the adoption, or be personally served by the court to appear for a hearing. If he follows through and attends, the court will hear his case. Failure to appear, on the other hand, will allow the adoption to proceed without him.
Fathers Without Rights
Birth fathers who do not meet the criteria mentioned above are known as “fathers without rights” or a “no rights father.” Under this category, as the term itself suggests, a birth father is not permitted the right to be notified of the adoption or to withhold his consent. However, the court can still require the father without rights be notified if he himself claims to be the child’s father.
Birth Fathers’ Rights in New York
The rights allowed to a birth father are very complex, and largely depend on varying state laws and regulations. It is important to research and learn all you can, and for birth mothers and birth fathers to know the difference of what their rights are in the adoption proceedings. Be sure to always consult your adoption lawyer or agency with specific questions regarding birth fathers’ rights. This article should not be considered legal advice and should not be relied on as such.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
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About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
“Birth Father Rights.” Copps DiPaola Silverman, PLLC. 06 June 2019 <https://thecdslawfirm.com/birth-father-rights/>.
“Fathers Under New York State Law.” AFFCNY. 06 June 2019 <https://affcny.org/fostercare/legal-issues/nys-family-court-proceedings/fathers-under-nys-law/>.
“Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C.” Nassau County Divorce Lawyer. 06 June 2019 <https://www.longislandlitigators.com/Our-Blog/2016/September/Information-for-Unmarried-Fathers-in-New-York.aspx>.
S, Nancy. “Birth Mother and Birth Father Legal Rights in Adoption.” Birth Mother and Birth Father Legal Rights in Adoption. 06 June 2019 <http://www.adoptfamilyconnections.org/blog/bid/358857/birth-mother-and-birth-father-legal-rights-in-adoption>.