I had a phone call from Lisa Church, a reporter for the Lansing State Journal last week. She called to discuss what rights a biological father has to block an adoption of his child. She was calling, really, for comment about a Michigan father whose parental rights were terminated in favor of adoptive parents. In that case, the father says that the mother deceived him about her pregnancy and then, when he learned about the baby, refused to accept any money for support.
He was unable to establish a father-child relationship because he had no access to the baby. Thus, a court terminated his parental rights because under Michigan law, he is a "do-nothing" parent. Lisa wanted to know if there was anything a father could do to protect his rights so that he could raise his child even if the mother did not want to do so.
I spoke with Lisa at length over the course of two telephone calls. Her article was published on Sunday, September 10, 2006. In it, she tells dads that they can have their rights terminated in an adoption proceeding unless they form a regular and substantial support relationship with the mother before the child's birth or with the child after the birth, and if they fail to form a regular and substantial parent-child relationship after the child's birth. So she got "the bun" -- I mean to say, she got my message in small part. (And I give her credit for that. I can't tell you how many times I've been misquoted!)
What was missing from her article is "the meat" of our discussion. We discussed at length, and I have in the past written in detail about how a father can begin to protect his rights. We talked about whether Michigan has "a putative father registry;" (Yes) about how fathers might find out about it (that's the hard part); about how they could use the registry and also a bank account into which they could escrow monies to establish financial support even if the mother will not accept support during the pregnancy or after the child's birth. We also talked about federal legislation that is pending that will help a father prevent a mother from frustrating Michigan law and avoiding the Michigan registry by giving birth in a state other than Michigan so that she doesn't have to notify the father of the child's birth an a pending adoption.
To learn more about these concepts, you can read earlier articles. Here you are -- the meat served up on a platter:
I've written extensively about Michigan's "putative father registry" and why it doesn't go far enough to protect a birth father's parental rights. Can a Putative Father Protect his Parental Rights by Filing a Notice Intent (to Claim Paternity)?
I've written about how important it is to establish a national putative father registry. How can a man protect his parental rights if the mother wants to place the child for adoption?
I've written about why signing an Acknowledgment of Parentage doesn't go far enough to protect a father's parental rights if his relationship with the mother breaks up before or after the child's birth. Acknowledgments of Parentage: Can They Protect Parent-Child Relationships?
More about how fathers are disadvantaged even if they've signed an Acknowledgment of Parentage: The 100-Mile Rule, the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act, and the Parental Kidnapping Statute: Are Unmarried Fathers at a Disadvantage?
I've also written extensively about how, under current Michigan law, a putative father has no legal right to custody or parenting time if the child is born or conceived to a woman while she's married to another man. What are the Rights of a Biological Father if the Mother is Married to Another Man?
And I've written about how the particular facts of a case can make it possible for a man whose child is born to a woman who was married either at the time of conception or birth to assert his parental rights. Another Look at Paternity Rights: This Time Boyfriend has the Right to Sue.
Do you need help with a paternity or child support case? Find a Michigan Family Lawyer near you.