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When multiple parties head to court over the care and custody of a child, the outcome is often heartbreaking for the side that does not win. This is especially true in cases where an adoption has taken place and is later challenged. By the time the matter is resolved, the adopting family is often completely bonded with the child, and having to hand over custody can be a traumatic experience. Unfortunately, there are multiple fathers’ rights cases each year in Florida and other states where adoptions are challenged and reversed, and where a child moves suddenly from one household to the next.

An example is found in the case of an unmarried couple who had a child together. The pair went to the process of signing notarized paperwork establishing the man’s paternity of the baby girl. However, less than a year later the father received notice that the child was being placed for adoption in a different state. He refused to relinquish his parental rights to his daughter, and filed a letter with the court asking that the adoption be blocked. However, he did not have the funds needed to hire an attorney and fight the action, and the adoption proceeded.

The man began a custody case in his state of residence, and that case was pending at the time that the adoption was made final in the other state. As part of that case, genetic testing was done that proved that the man was actually not the biological father of the little girl, although he had been deemed the legal father in his state of residence. When the case reached the Supreme Court of the state where the adoption took place, it was determined that the courts erred by not recognizing the man’s status as the child’s legal father, and the adoption was reversed.

While this is certainly a win from the perspective of the child’s legal father, it is also a terrible set of circumstances for the adoptive family, who had come to love this child as their own. In cases where a couple in Florida or elsewhere is pregnant and there is any question about whether that child will be placed for adoption, the father is placed in a difficult position. In order to protect his parental rights, he must take immediate action to secure fathers’ rights, and to establish his intent to raise the child.   

Source: omaha.com, “Court reverses adoption of girl born in Ohio; father had fought mother’s actions“, June 25, 2016