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Biological father who was not "presumed father" could not block adoption

Under California law, a biological father has a right to withhold consent to the adoption of a child if he meets the definition of a "presumed father."
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    February 05, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Biological father who was not "presumed father" could not block adoption

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Under California law, a biological father has a right to withhold consent to the adoption of a child if he meets the definition of a "presumed father." The status of presumed father can be attained in a number of ways, including being married at the time of the child's birth, or through the father making a "Voluntary Declaration of Paternity" under California law.

But even something that appears as straightforward as voluntarily declaring paternity can contain legal complications. The California Court of Appeal case of Adoption of A.S. demonstrates such a situation.

A child born out of wedlock in New York . . . is adopted in California

The biological mother and father of the child were teenagers living in New York. The relationship soured prior to the baby's birth, with much conflict between the families. The mother alleged that the father had never offered or gave financial support and never discussed raising the baby together. The father alleged he had offered to be involved to some extent, but the mother did not want his involvement. The mother found a prospective couple in California to adopt the child.

The father was notified of the adoption proceedings, but he did not send back the paperwork he received as he did not agree to the adoption. The baby was born, and the mother signed relinquishment papers. The adoptive parents moved the baby to California and petitioned the California courts to terminate the father's parental rights.

The father went to court in New York and a New York Family Court entered an "Order of Filiation" stating that the father was the biological father of the child. The father then argued that the New York order provided him with a presumed father status in California.

Could the father's rights be terminated?

While it was true that a California "Voluntary Declaration of Paternity" accorded a father with the status of being a presumed father--thereby giving the father the opportunity to block an adoption--the father here assumed that a New York "Order of Filiation" had the same legal effect.

Under California law, a simple judgment of paternity, similar to the "Order of Filiation," did not automatically make a father a presumed father with the right to veto an adoption. A definite distinction existed between a simple judgment of paternity and a "Voluntary Declaration;" the simple judgment of paternity was not enough to grant presumed father status under California law.

In addition, the California court would not disturb this result, where it did not seem in the best interests of the child for the father to retain his rights. His failure to take prompt action to accept the opportunity of parenthood had also undercut his position in the family law proceedings. Thus, the father would not be able to block the adoption and his parental rights were terminated.

Understanding your options

Whether you are pursuing adoption or attempting to assert or deny paternity, many legal complexities can arise. Seek an attorney who will review your circumstances, explain the law, and work for a resolution that will protect your rights and interests in the proceedings.

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