Can an unmarried father object to adoption of his child? | Lane & Lane, LLC
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Can an unmarried father object to adoption of his child?

Unmarried fathers in New Jersey sometimes have to face many stumbling blocks when they want to be a part of their children's lives. In circumstances in which a mother wishes to give a baby up for adoption, fathers who have not been proactive in establishing paternity may be denied any say in the adoption decision. For an unmarried father to have any chance of preventing an adoption, he must be recognized as the father through voluntary paternity acknowledgement at the time of the baby's birth or through DNA paternity testing, and a commitment to responsible parenting must be evident.

In a case in which the relationship ended, a man may be unaware of the fact that he fathered a child. Clearly, he must act quickly once he knows or suspects he is the father of a child. Even then, such a parent might be denied the right to object to an adoption. The court may not look favorably on a father who only establishes paternity when issues such as adoption arise. The demonstration of commitment required by the courts typically includes the father's emotional and financial support, along with making all possible efforts to establish a parent-child relationship.

Financial support must start before the child's birth by helping with expenses related to the pregnancy and the birth, along with the payment of child support after the birth. If evidence of drug or alcohol dependency exists, the right to object to adoption may be denied even where paternity has been formally established. If the court is satisfied by the father's proof of paternity and the level of support he provides, the court will typically allow him to take part in decisions related to adoption and other matters regarding the child.

A thorough knowledge of New Jersey laws related to adoption is required before pursuing litigation to prevent an adoption. An experienced family law attorney can assist a father in filing an objection in the appropriate court and taking such other action as is warranted under the circumstances. When a formal objection to a proposed adoption is made, the court may expect the father to file for child custody within a limited time frame as further evidence of his commitment ot the child.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Rights: Unmarried Fathers and Adoption", Accessed on Jan. 10, 2016

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