Pepperdine Law Review
Because the rights afforded to unwed biological fathers are evolving slowly, there are no clear guidelines establishing how courts should decide adoption cases involving fathers' rights. This legal commentary focuses on the origin of recent legislative, judicial, and public support for clarification in this area, particularly the impasse arising when an unwed biological father attempts to block an adoption, and the effects on children of the lack of a uniform standard to determine a father's rights. The historical development of the problem is discussed, focusing specifically on the urgent need to establish uniformity and predictability in determining a father's rights, and the effect of the current confusion on the children involved. The author outlines the underlying constitutional claims emanating from these cases, because neither State statute nor judicial precedent addresses the rights afforded to unwed biological fathers with any uniformity. Guidelines are proposed to provide predictability in light of the constitutional issues, particularly the need for State enactment of certain sections of the Uniform Adoption Act, along with other specific legislation. The author also touches on the possibility of recognizing constitutionally protected due process rights for children. State ratification of pertinent sections of the Uniform Adoption Act, or the adoption of similar guidelines, will provide the certainty necessary to protect the rights of all parties to an adoption. Moreover, consistent court recognition of constitutional due process rights for children will serve as a safety net to protect the interests of children who may fall through the cracks of even the most stringent guidelines. References.
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