Florida State University Law Review
This article reviews the rights of unwed fathers in contested adoption cases. Part 1 of the article serves as an introduction to the issues and outlines a recent Florida case involving a father's thwarted effort to contest an adoption. Part 2 discusses State's interests and parental rights, and distinguishes the separate legal standing of unwed fathers, especially in contested at-birth adoption cases. Part 3 explains the birth rights doctrine and its underlying policies. Part 4 reviews the historical and modern treatment of the rights of birth fathers. Part 5 reviews several competing legal interests that have diminished the birth rights doctrine. Part 6 reviews the Florida Statutes in the context of the 3 types of contested at-birth adoption cases to demonstrate that the current law is unconstitutional. Part 7 makes recommendations for revising Florida Statutes. Part 8 compares past legislative efforts to these recommendations. The article concludes that legislating a preference for birth fathers over adoptive parents is one way to ensure due process protection for fathers and to provide appropriate constitutional guidelines in an area that the United States Supreme Court has not yet addressed. Numerous references.
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