These Are the Three Things That You Should Do
Video Transcribed: Your pregnant girlfriend is trying to give up your soon-to-be-born child for adoption. What do you do in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa Child Custody Attorney, James Wirth, and that’s the scenario that we’re dealing with.
This is actually a question that we get on a somewhat regular basis. We’ve got a punitive father, essentially a person that’s in a relationship with a woman, the woman becomes pregnant, the relationship breaks up, and then that person hears that the mother is actually intending to give that child up for adoption upon birth. Meanwhile, the father-to-be wants to get custody of that child. What do you do in that scenario?
And the law is actually pretty clear. In Oklahoma, there are three things that you can, and you should do if you want to prevent the adoption from going through, and you want to fight to have custody of your child when the child is born.
The first thing is a Paternity Action. Many people don’t know, but you can actually file a Paternity Action before the child is born. And that’s statutory, you can look it up, it’s Title 10, Section 7700-611, Commencement of Proceeding Before Birth of Child.
And it says, “A proceeding to determine parentage may be commenced before the birth of a child, but may not be concluded until after the birth of the child.”You want to file that Paternity Action and indicate that you are asserting that you are the father or you’re requesting DNA testing to prove that you’re the father and you serve that on the other parent. And that is a pending lawsuit.
Second thing, there is the Centralized Paternity Registry, and that is with DHS and it provides for putative fathers to assert their paternity and request, essentially, that they’re going to be a part of the child’s life and be involved.
This is what it said, it’s also statutory, it’s Title 10, again, Section 7506-1.1. It says, “The Department of Human Services shall establish a centralized paternity registry.
The purpose of the registry is to: Protect the parental rights of a punitive father who may wish to affirmatively assume responsibilities for children he may have fathered; and expedite adoptions of children whose biological fathers are unwilling to assume responsibility for their children by registering with the registry or otherwise acknowledging the the their children.”
Listen to what that says, that says that this is to protect fathers who file with the centralized paternity registry, so you need to file with the registry. Because the second part says, if you don’t file, then we’re assuming that you don’t want to assume responsibility.
You want to file that as soon as possible. That also means that because you register with them, they know how to get you to notice, and then you got to get your notice of the adoption proceedings that otherwise you may not be entitled to, or they may not serve you with. Okay, that’s the second thing.
The third thing is indicating the law. What has to be shown to the court in order for the court to allow adoption without your consent as the father? And this is Title 10, Section 7505-4.2, and it says, “Consent to adoption is not required from a father or putative father of a minor child born out of wedlock if the minor is placed for adoption within 90 days of birth and the father or putative father fails to show he has exercised parental rights or duties toward the minor, including but not limited to, failure to contribute to the support of the mother of the child to the extent of his financial ability during the term of pregnancy.”
Where we have an adoption agency involved, where the mother is communicating in advance of the child being born, they do these things quickly. They file proceedings prior to the child being born and once the child is born, they get temporary custody orders very quickly.
And then shortly thereafter, they move through the process to get a final adoption decree or decree of adoption. When they say, within 90 days of birth you need to show that you’re supporting the child, what they really mean in these circumstances, or what’s important in these circumstances is that you’re not going to have an opportunity to probably support the child after birth, because it’s going to be that quick. The part where it talks about supporting the mother is very important here.
Let me read that part again, “Including, but not limited to failure to contribute to the support of the mother of the child to the extent of his financial ability during the term of pregnancy.” You need to be financially supporting the mother during the pregnancy, even if you’re broken up, even if you’re not getting along, but to show that you care about your soon-to-be-born child, that is what the law requires you to do. If you do that, then your consent may be required or likely will be required in order for that adoption to go through.
Those are the three things that you should do. Number one, you can file a paternity action. Number two, definitely get registered with the centralized paternity registry, and number three, definitely support financially to the extent of your ability, the mother during the pregnancy, and make sure that you have proof of all of that.
If you do those things then you’re going to be in a very good position. If you’ve got questions about your specific circumstances, which if you’re going through this, you do need to talk to an attorney about your specific circumstances, contact an attorney. To speak with a Tulsa Family Law Attorney at my office you can go online to makelaweasy.com.