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When Natural Fathers Rights to Consent is Required for Adoption

As a family law attorney practicing on Long Island, protecting biological fathers rights in the complicated adoption process is often part of my job. When a parent is unable to care for the needs of his or her child and considers adoption as an alternative to parenting, or when a natural and custodial parent wishes for his or her new spouse to adopt the child and become a legal parent, New York adoption laws come into play.

What Is In ‘the Best Interests of the Child’?

Laws on Long Island are guided by New York laws with the principle to protect the best interests of the child. In many cases, adoption can offer the best-case scenario for the growth and development of a child when the biological parents are unable to provide for the child’s needs.

Constitutional Biological Fathers Rights    

On Long Island, the New York Domestic Relations Law governs adoption and provides detailed guidelines for when a biological fathers rights require his consent is required for adoption. Generally speaking, there is a Constitutional right for a birth father to be notified that he may be the father of a child who is being put up for adoption.

Fathers Rights Ensure His Consent is Needed When ….

One of the most important parental rights is that of consent or objection to the adoption of one’s child. Generally, both parents of a child must consent to an adoption only if both parents meet certain requirements that give them this parental right to block or consent to the adoption. The biological father also has the right to be heard in court if he believes the adoption should not go forward.

Whether a biological father’s consent is needed for an adoption to go forward will often depend on the nature and quality of the relationship between the father and the child. Generally, a child cannot be adopted without the consent of the birth father if the parents are married, or were married within a designated time period before the birth of the child. In cases where the father was married to the mother at the time of birth, there is a presumption that the husband is the biological father of child, and consent is likely required.

If the parents were not married, but lived together either at the time of the child’s birth, or within a certain time before the child’s birth, the consent of the father may also be required. In New York, the consent of a father who openly held out to be the child’s father by taking care of the child’s emotional, physical, and financial needs may be required. Furthermore, New York law will require a father’s consent to adoption for a child born out of wedlock and placed for adoption at less than six months of age only if the father has ‘promptly’ asserted his interest and manifested his ‘ability and willingness to assume custody of the child.’ If a child is older than six months, and a birth father has still not asserted his rights or responsibility for the child, the likelihood that his consent will be required is further diminished.

When Is the Biological Father’s Consent Not Needed?

If the biological parents were never married and have never lived together, most states do not require the father’s consent before placing a child up for adoption. The birth father is given notice of the intent to put the child up for adoption, and if he does not challenge the adoption, his parental rights are terminated. If he does challenge the adoption, a hearing will be held to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. An exception to this may exist where the identity of the biological father is unknown or undisclosed. In such cases, consent is unlikely to be required as the biological father has not asserted his parental rights and responsibilities, manifested his intent to develop a relationship with the child, or provided care and support for the child sufficient to require his consent.

It is true that many adoptions take place without involving the child’s birth father in any way. However, a birth father should be aware that he has certain rights with regard to the adoption of his child. If you are a birth father who is concerned that your child will be adopted, it is important to take the initiative in terms of your parental rights and responsibilities and step forward to care for your child. Showing that you are committed and responsible may go a long way toward preserving your parental rights.

Fathers Rights Protected by Long Island Family Law Attorney in Nassau County and Suffolk County

If you are a birth mother and seeking to have your child adopted by a step-parent or otherwise, it is important that you speak to an experienced Long Island family law attorney to help you understand the biological fathers rights and obligations. The Law Office of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C. is here to help. Call us today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation.

For more information on Adoption, see our Long Island Adoption Handbook.

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