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Birth Father Rights


A biological birth father (called the birth father), just like every biological mother (called the birth mother), has parental rights to their child and these parental rights must be addressed in any child adoption.  It is important to understand the birth parents rights and how they apply to the adoption process.

Alleged or Putative Birth Father Rights

A woman's husband is the legal father of any child she gives birth to even if they have been separated, even if they have been divorced for only a short period of time and even if he is not the actual biological father. The biological father, if he is not married to the birth mother, he is called the putative father.  The legal father, biological father, or putative father can be considered to be the birth father.  Accordingly, a child may have a biological father, a putative father, and a legal father and they can all be the same person or can be different men. 

Each U.S. state has different laws concerning the parental rights of the birth father and there is no one law that applies across every state. There is also no one national putative father registry where every birth father can register his name.

Termination, surrender or relinquishment of the birth mother and birth father parental rights ends the biological parent-child relationship. Once the relationship has been ended, the child is legally free to be adopted.  Each U.S. state has laws relating to the ending of the parental rights of the birth mother and birth father. You may want to check the laws of the state in which you reside, under the heading of termination, surrender or relinquishment of parental rights. 

The laws of the state in which the birth mother terminates her rights and the laws of the birth father's state of residence will help define the birth father's rights.  Laws for Child Adoption will help you to find the requirements of any or all states.

Additional Information and Resources

The Child Welfare Information Gateway article titled The Rights of Presumed (Putative) Fathers provides basic information about putative fathers' parental rights and putative father registries.

For additional information about ending a birth fathers parental rights, please visit birth mother termination and visit Birth Father Rights Regarding Child Adoption and Adoption Laws and Rights.

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