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Unmarried Father Who Failed to Establish Paternity Cannot Stop Adoption

Unmarried men who become fathers cannot rely solely on their biological ties to establish themselves as legal parents. While married men are presumed to be the legal father of the infant when their wife gives birth, those who are not wed must register with Ohio’s Putative Father Registry no more than 15 days after the child is born. If they fail to take this step, they might not be able to stop the baby’s mother from placing the baby with an adoptive family.

In a case before the Ohio Supreme Court, In re Adoption of H.P., Kaidan Whitrock sought to undo the adoption of his biological child after the infant’s mother, Josephine Davis, agreed to place the baby with a married couple. The petition for adoption was filed in Van Wert County only a few days after the birth, with the Davis and adoptive couple stating that they did not believe Whitrock’s consent was necessary because he willfully abandoned Davis during her pregnancy. However, the petition also noted that there was time for Whitrock to file with the Putative Father Registry within the statutory timeframe. Upon expiration of that timeframe, the court placed the child in the adoptive family’s home.

Two days after the statutory period expired, Whitrock did register and subsequently filed an objection to the adoption of his biological child in Logan County. After the two county courts disagreed about whether Whitrock had established paternity, the case was appealed, eventually to the state’s top court. In its decision, the Ohio Supreme Court strictly enforced the deadline that Whitrock had missed by a couple of days and ruled that his consent was not required to complete the adoption. The court pointed out that, in addition to the 15-day post-birth period, Whitrock could have registered as the child’s putative father at any time while Davis was pregnant.

This case highlights that a genetic test or evidence of a romantic relationship is not sufficient to establish legal paternity. Whether you are a father looking to raise your son or daughter, or a mother seeking the child support you’re entitled to, it is necessary to take the required legal actions.

Mock Law, L.P.A. in Toledo represents Northwest Ohio clients in paternity proceedings and other types of family law matters. To make an appointment, please call 567-200-3573 or contact me online. Someone will answer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.