THE PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRY

By: George A. Lohmeier March 2014

So just what or who is a "putative father"? By definition, a putative father is a man who thinks he might be the father of a child born out of wedlock or a man who the mother thinks is the father of her child born out of wedlock. The primary point to be made here is that it is a man, who is, or may be, the father of a child born to a woman to whom he is not married and for whom paternity has not yet been established. So what is this Putative Father Registry? If you don't know what it is and you find yourself in the category of men just mentioned, please don't be surprised that you don't know what it is. While I may be going out on a limb here, I think it safe to say that most putative fathers do not know about it either.

The purpose of the Putative Father Registry (hereafter referred to "the Registry") is two fold. First, for one who registers it will protect him from having their child adopted without receiving notice that an adoption of that child has been filed. Indeed, if a putative father fails to register, his consent to an adoption is irrevocably implied. In other words you cannot later object to an adoption...ever. The second purpose of the Registry is to insure the finality of an adoption. If one has not registered with the Registry, they lose their right to object, and the adoption is final.

Most putative fathers will either find themselves in a situation where the mother intends to give the child up for adoption immediately after the child is born. In this instance, the transfer of the child takes place right at the hospital following the birth. The second situation involves a mother who has had a child born out of wedlock and later marries a man who is not the child's father and that "step-father" files for adoption. In either case, the person filing to adopt must notify the Putative Father Registry of their intention to adopt and the Registry then must mail a certificate directly to the court handling the adoption declaring whether or not any one is listed on the putative father registry for that particular child or the mother. If the certificate finds that there is no putative father registered, then the adoption can go forward without the biological father receiving notice of the adoption proceedings or, if he does know about if for whatever reason, he is deemed to have consented to the adoption.

Even fathers who have signed a paternity affidavit at the hospital, but who have not formally established paternity in a court of law, should always register as there can be a legal question as to whether or not a paternity affidavit, without more, will protect you if you are not registered.

To register with the Putative Father Registry contact them at:

Putative Father Registry - Indiana State Dept. of Health
2 North Meridian Street,
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Fax: (317) 233-1289

If you have questions about the putative father registry or otherwise want to secure your rights and obligations to your child, you will want to consult an attorney knowledgeable in family law. Several of the attorneys at Allen Wellman McNew Harvey, LLP regularly practice in this area and would welcome the opportunity to assist you.