Though there is no uniform definition of “father” in state statutes across the country, many states, including Florida, have different categories of fathers. Two common categories include “putative fathers” and “presumed fathers.”
Which category you fall into will dictate your rights and responsibilities as they pertain to child-rearing and support. If the state classifies you as a “putative father,” you may have to take specific and additional measures to establish your paternity. One measure that can significantly bolster your claim of fatherhood is registering for the putative father registry.
Before you register on a putative father registry, you may want to ascertain that you do, in fact, qualify as a putative father. Per the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, a putative father is a man who either claims to be the father of a child or who is the alleged father of a child with whom he has yet to establish a legal relationship. A putative father was not married to the mom at the time of the child’s birth.
The putative father registry is a platform on which you can voluntarily acknowledge your paternity or the likelihood of paternity to a child you conceived out of wedlock. The registry — which 24 states, including Florida, have adopted — helps states comply with requirements set forth by the federal law. Per the requirements, all states must have a system in place that allows mothers and alleged fathers to acknowledge paternity, including a hospital-run system that allows parents to recognize paternity either directly before or after the birth of a child.
Your registry in the Florida putative father database grants you rights that you would otherwise struggle to obtain as an unmarried father. For instance, as a registrant, you have the right to receive notice of any and all court proceedings that pertain to your child, including petitions for adoption and motions to terminate parental rights. In Florida, as is the case in nine other states, the registry is your sole means of establishing your right to legal notices.
Registering as a putative father is one of the most effective ways to assert your paternity and preserve your parental rights. If you want to assert your rights but are unsure about how to do so, do not hesitate to seek professional help.