When states establish paternity registries they must set deadlines after which an unwed father cannot assert his right to paternity, the author states. While these laws apply to paternity registration in cases where a mother chooses to keep her baby, state statutes vary on whether such registration deadlines should apply in custody cases where the mother later decides to put the child up for adoption. The author explores federal and state legal rulings relevant to the discussion, noting that some states measure the date of child's birth as the beginning of this registration period while others permit the unwed father to register up until a petition for adoption is filed. Most states have a 30-day filing deadline starting at the time of birth, provided the father knows of the birth and the existence of a state registry. Other states assume that any man who engages in sexual intercourse with a woman is presumed to be aware that a pregnancy could result, and do not make such an exception. The author discusses historical, legal and social features of such time constraints; presents published criticism of current registries, and discusses privacy issues if mothers are compelled to identify their child's father. If states want to provide meaningful protections for unwed fathers in adoption cases, they must implement more flexible registries that allow fathers to come forward within a reasonable period after an adoption and demonstrate that they were not aware of the child's existence. In addition, states should implement a uniform registration statute and share registration information with other states. In addition, paternity registries and filing deadlines should be more widely publicised. 99 references
Protecting the Unwed Father's Opportunity to Parent: A Survey of Paternity Registry Statutes.
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