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Meaning of “Alleged Father” and Why It Matters

What is an alleged father?

In California, we use the term “alleged father” to describe a man who claims to be the biological father of a child, born to a woman whom the man is not married to at the time of birth.  Other states may call this father a “putative father.”

It’s important to know the status of a particular father because different types of fathers have different legal rights.

An alleged or putative father is generally:

  • not married to the expectant mother,
  • could be the child’s father, but
  • does not have an automatic right to custody, and
  • his name is not on the child’s birth certificate.

In most states, alleged or putative fathers are entitled to notice of their alleged paternity and the proposed adoption plan.

alleged father sleeping baby

An Alleged Father may sign adoption paperwork

An alleged father can sign adoption paperwork if he is agreeable to the adoption plan.  He can sign consent paperwork, consenting to the adoption, or he can sign a waiver.  In California, this is called the “Waiver of the Right to Further Notice of Adoption Planning.”  The alleged father simply signs this form and has it notarized.  Typically, we will send a traveling notary to an alleged father, at his convenience and at no charge to him.  An alleged father must initiate a court action if he wishes to rescind this waiver after he has signed it.

Notice of alleged paternity and the proposed adoption

If the alleged father does not sign the waiver, then the adopting parents must arrange to have him legally served with a notice of his alleged paternity and the proposed adoption.  The alleged father then has 30 days after service of the notice or the birth of the baby, whichever is later, to file an action to prove that there is a father-child relationship and to ask for custody. If he does not respond to the notice within the statutory time, then the adoption may move forward without further notice to him.

Alleged versus presumed father: why it matters

When an alleged father elevates his legal standing to that of a “presumed” father, the situation can become complicated. Presumed fathers have many more rights than alleged fathers. In California, a presumed father is generally:

  • married to the birth mother, or
  • participates in the pregnancy, or
  • named on the child’s birth certificate.

I presumed father must sign adoption paperwork.  An adoption cannot move forward without his involvement.

We have extensive experience with both alleged and presumed fathers. Terminating all possible fathers’ rights is critical in any adoption, even when a birth mother doesn’t know who the father is or where he lives.

Every situation is different and this article does not constitute legal advice.  If you have questions about your baby’s father’s legal rights, you can text or email anytime.

Contact Us

You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information.  Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption.  I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.

Sincerely,

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Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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