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Unwed father's rights protected in new adoption law

An unplanned pregnancy is stressful, even for married couples. However, when unwed parents are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a lot more stress can be involved. Particularly if the mother of the child decides on adoption without the support or knowledge of the baby's father.

Fortunately for unwed fathers in New Jersey and throughout the country, they now may have one less thing to worry about in the near future if the relationship goes awry during a pregnancy. A state lawmaker in Utah has introduced a bill that will prevent an unmarried woman from coming to the state, giving birth and putting up the child for adoption without the consent of the biological father.

The bill's introduction comes after the Utah Supreme Court made a ruling on a case involving an unmarried Colorado man that was involved in a similar situation. Another father in Florida has also been affected by the state's current adoption laws and is currently fighting for his parental rights before the Utah Supreme Court.

If passed, a pregnant woman will have to give notice by mail or publication to the biological father if they are unmarried and he is not within the state at the time of the decision. Any father -- whether within the state or elsewhere -- will no longer have to file for a court action so that he can file a notice of intent to claim paternity with the state.

With the elimination of this clause, unwed fathers will have an easier time of claiming paternity, which may put the brakes on the adoption process much sooner. This could save a serious amount of legal work from occurring to rectify the situation if the father is not happy with the decision to put his child up for adoption.

Notices will have to be sent by the mother to the last place of residence for the father. If there is no known place of residence, the notice should be published to a newspaper in the last area that the father was known to reside. This notice will include information on how he can protect his rights as a father.

After the notice is received or published, the father has 30 days to respond after which his agreement to the adoption will be assumed.

Source: Utah News, "Utah adoption bill aims to give unwed fathers more protections," Brooke Adams, Jan. 27, 2012

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