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Does an Unmarried Father Have the Right to Stop an Adoption in Florida?


For married fathers, parental rights are automatically granted when their wife gives birth. A married mother cannot put a child up for adoption unless she has the consent of the legal father (her husband) or has good cause to take action to get her husband’s parental rights removed. For unmarried fathers, establishing parental rights is more challenging. Proactive steps must be taken.

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our top-rated Orlando family law attorney has extensive experience protecting fathers rights in Florida. Here, we explain the basics of what unmarried Florida fathers should know about their ability to stop the child’s mother from putting their kid up for adoption.

Legal Fathers Have Parental Rights

In order to stop a mother from putting a baby up for a adoption, a father should take action to be recognized as the ‘legal father’ by the state of Florida. For unmarried fathers, there are two basics paths to establishing paternity:

  1. Both parents must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form; or
  2. The father must take legal action to seek an Administrative Order of Paternity.

A mother cannot put a child up for adoption without the consent of the legal father. As such, if an unmarried father has already established his parental rights, either through a valid Voluntary Acknowledgment or an Order of Paternity, his consent is needed for an adoption to occur.

Unmarried Fathers Who Have Established Paternity Must Take Action

If a man is not currently viewed as the legal father of a child and he has not taken any action to protect himself, he will not have the right to stop an adoption. In these cases, immediate action must be taken by the father to establish and assert his parental rights. An unmarried man who is not the legal father should sign up with the Florida Putative Father Registry without delay. This registry is managed by the Florida Department of Health. By signing up, an unmarried father who currently lacks parental rights can create and preserve the right to notice and consent, should the child be put up for adoption.

Under Florida law, biological mothers and prospective adoptive parents are required to consult with this registry before an adoption can be completed. If a father is on this registry, then he must receive a Notice of Intended Adoption Plan (NOIAP) when an adoption is being proposed. Upon receiving this notice, the unmarried father will need to take action. Notably, if an unmarried father who has not established legal rights fails to register with the Florida Putative Father Registry, then a default judgment may be entered against him and his consent will no longer be required for adoption.

Contact Our Orlando Family Law Attorney Today 

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., we have extensive experience handling paternity issues in Central Florida. To get immediate legal guidance, call our office today. Our law firm is based in Orlando, and we represent fathers throughout Orange County, Florida.



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