The first step in any adoption proceeding is terminating the parental rights of the biological parents. You must terminate both biological parents’ rights unless you are pursuing a stepparent adoption. The petitioner must prove at least one of the legal grounds to terminate a parent’s rights for a court to terminate the rights. In addition, the petitioner must prove termination would be in the child’s best interests. It is essential to prove these two things with clear and convincing evidence.
Do you have to terminate?
We need to terminate the rights of putative fathers and legal fathers. We do not need always need to terminate the rights of all biological fathers. Biological fathers who are not also putative fathers have no claim to the child. For example, a known father who consistently ignores or denies his paternity to a child is not a putative father.
What is a putative father?
A putative father generally means a man who is alleged to be or claims to be the biological father of a child who is born to a woman to whom he is not married at the time of the child’s birth.
What is a legal father?
A legal father generally refers to a man married to the mother at the time of conception or birth of their child or whose paternity has been otherwise determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Do I have to terminate if the father isn’t on the birth certificate?
Maybe. If a person qualifies as a putative father, then you will have to terminate that person’s rights. Let’s dive into the “putative father” concept. How does one become a putative father?
A person may become a putative father by:
(1) Registering on the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the child’s birth;
(2) Claiming to the mother, Petitioners or their attorney, or the Department of Children’s Services that he believes himself to be the father of the child;
(3) Entering into a Permanency Plan with DCS acknowledging he is the father of the child.
Is it difficult to terminate the rights of a putative father?
There are grounds to terminate the rights of a putative father. One such ground is that a putative father’s rights can be terminate if he fails to file a parentage action within thirty days of notice that the mom was pregnant and that is his child.
The process of terminating parental rights is often the most challenging part of an adoption case. Following termination of both biological parents’ rights, the prospective adoptive family must show the court that they have met the requirements to adopt and that placing the child with them is in the child’s best interests. The adoptive parents have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to provide a loving, stable, and supportive home for the child. In the event that the court finds that the proposed adoption serves the child’s interests and that all of the requirements have been met, it will sign the final adoption order. Contact a Knoxville adoption lawyer for help!
Attorney Mark Pienkowski is dedicated to helping you complete your adoption in a timely and cost-effective manner. Adopting a child is a happy time and we will work hard to ensure that every detail is covered so that you can welcome your new child into your home and family. To schedule a consultation with a Tennessee adoption lawyer – contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.