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How do unmarried fathers secure the right to object to adoption?

When the mother and father of a child born out of wedlock eventually marry and subsequently divorce, either of them could remarry. If the mother remarries and her new spouse wishes to adopt the child, the biological father may not have the legal right to object if he never established paternity. Missouri fathers in such predicaments could earn the right to object to the adoption under some circumstances.

The first thing that an unmarried father needs to do is establish paternity as soon as possible. Not doing so might prevent him from having any parental rights. Additionally, waiting to establish paternity could make a court believe that the unmarried father is not dedicated to being a parent. Establishing paternity may be achieved through DNA testing among other methods.

The next step is for the father to demonstrate that he is committed to being a parent to his child. This involves providing for both the emotional and material needs of his child, including trying to form a parental relationship with his child. A court might consider whether the father is fit to be a parent and whether he is able to provide financial support for his child's needs. It may also consider whether the father is trying to make himself available to the child. Fathers who have had alcohol or drug problems could be refused the parental rights that they seek.

Outside of situations that involve divorced and remarried parents, unmarried fathers might not want their children to be put up for adoption if the mothers indicate during pregnancy that they wish to. Those who object might talk to a family law attorney about how to file an objection and whether they need to seek custody of their children. The attorney can explain the process in further detail.

Source: Findlaw, "Fathers' Rights", November 18, 2014

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