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Heart of Adoptions, Inc. V. J.A.

Practice Area: Adoption

Outcome: Clarification of Putative Father Registry

Description: The Florida Supreme Court held the rights of an unmarried biological father who is known or identified by the mother and who is locatable by diligent search may be terminated based on his failure to file with the Putative Father Registry, if he is served with a Notice of Intended Adoption Plan under §63.062(3)(a) and he fails to comply with the requirements of that subsection within thirty-days. According to the Court, this required the birth father to timely file a claim of paternity with the registry, execute and file an affidavit in the proceeding that he is personally fully able and willing to take responsibility for the child, set forth his plans for care of the child, and agree to a court order of child support and a contribution to the payment of living and medical expenses incurred for the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth in accordance with his ability to pay. Further, if the birth father knew about the pregnancy, he must have paid a fair and reasonable amount of expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth, in accordance with his financial ability and when not prevented from doing so by the birth mother or authorized agent having lawful custody of the child. If the birth father demonstrates compliance with all applicable subsections, the adoption entity is still entitled to pursue a claim of abandonment as a basis to terminate his parental rights.

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