The New Putative Father Registry

Beginning May 30, 2003, Florida statutes were amended to legislate the creation of a Putative Father Registry. The registry, which is maintained through the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics, enables men who believe they have fathered a child out of wedlock to register their names and addresses, and other information. They will then be contacted if the child is put up for adoption by the birth mother. By submitting his name, which must be registered any time prior to the birth of the child, the father is consenting to DNA testing to determine paternity and is stating his intent and willingness to support the child.

The registration form requires the putative father to list his name, date of birth, physical description and contact information, and information about the mother, including her name, address, date of birth, physical description, the date and location of conception if known, as well as other information. This information is confidential. The putative father must keep his contact information current to ensure that he is contacted when a proceeding regarding the minor child is filed.

The Putative Father Registry replaces an unpopular adoption law that required unmarried mothers who want to put their babies up for adoption to take out newspaper advertisements identifying themselves and their sexual histories.

The intention of this process is to make the adoption proceedings more certain and avoid potential custody battles that disrupt the lives of the children, the birth mother, and the adoptive families. Under the putative father registry process, the prospective adoptive parents must apply to the Department of Health for a certificate which must be filed with the court handling the adoption. This certificate sets forth whether any putative fathers are listed for the child and if so, the name and contact information for the father. If a name is listed with the registry, the court can determine the putative father’s rights based upon Florida statute if he chooses to exercise them. If not, the adoption can take place in a smooth and prompt manner without potential disruption.