What is an alleged father?

An alleged father is a man who may be the father of a child but is not married to or living with the mother.  Some states call this father a putative father.  Why does this matter?  An alleged or putative father has limited rights in an adoption.

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.  Their consent to an adoption may not be required, and the time they have to establish parental rights is limited.

alleged father sleeping baby

Jackson, adopted 2014

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.”  He 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.  He 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.  He 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 vs. 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.