${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt} Main Menu
Call Today: 855-805-0595

Bill in Missouri State Senate could threaten some fathers' rights

The result of one father's 6-year custody battle is a bill introduced by one of the members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys that would allow an adoption of a child without the father's consent. What many people don't know is that Missouri law requires an unmarried father to declare paternity of a child within 15 days of that child's birth. But what about fathers who are not informed of a partners pregnancy or their pending fatherhood in a timely manner?

The custody battle that spurred adoption attorneys to propose this bill involves a man who was awaiting the results of a DNAplacing his name as the father on the child's birth certificate. More than 15 days had passed so the mother was allowed to place tpaternity test before he child up for adoption, which she did. The child had been placed temporarily with a couple who filed a petition to transfer custody and proceed with the adoption of the child. That petition stated the father was unknown and the mother agreed to the adoption.

Once the father was notified of the adoption, he filed with the state's putative father registry and had the child's birth certificate amended naming him as the father. He then intervened in the adoption and the 6-year custody dispute ensued. The father ultimately won custody of his child just last summer.

The author of the bill threatening some fathers' rights claims she just wants to clarify to the courts when a child is available for a legal adoption by spelling out when a father has not protected his parental rights. But one Missouri lawmaker, who strongly opposes the bill, said the bill is biased against men and would deprive a man of the right to be a father as well as relinquish him from his child support duties. Parents should always have a right to their child before anyone else can assume custody and parental rights to that child, he said.

Another critic of the bill claims it restricts the constitutional rights of the father-child relationship, and that the language needs to be changed to reflect a broader spectrum of who can thwart a father's parental rights. The bill passed the House by a wide margin of 126 to 15, was read in the Missouri State Senate and is being considered by the Senate's Health Committee.

Source: CBS St. Louis, "Fathers of Illegitimate Children Would Lose Rights to Adoption," Josie Butler, April 10, 2012


More information on this bill for readers:

We are advised that Professor Mary Beck authored these provisions in the new adoption law. Professor Mary Beck attempted to pass a bill in US Senate with Senator Mary Landrieu that would essentially establish grounds for "Prebirth Abandonment" and that implied consent from a father would exist if the father fell under this criteria.

According to the law summary the PROUD Father Act would "provide assurances that the state will put into effect a law that defines what constitutes prebirth abandonment and abandonment subsequent to birth." http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/s3803

Prebirth adandonment is a subtle phrase for termination of a father's legal rights before the child is born, or before the father would know for sure it is his child.

Let's get out and fight the passage of this bill. This bill is truly a travesty. Call your State Senator and the Governor's Office.

Stange Law Firm, LLC

Additional information we have discovered:

A quote from Prof. Mary Beck on the putative father registry is contained below. According to her own statements, woman should not have to notify a father when they get pregnant because too many men are violent. (This in and of itself is an unfair swipe at all those good fathers out there who want to be good dads.) Yet, if men don't provide pre-natal care for a child that they have not been given actual notice about, they can have their rights terminated for pre-birth abandonment according to the bill Prof. Mary Beck currently has pending in the Missouri Senate. This is a shocking proposition and would, in essence, make the mother the sole decision-maker on whether a child can be put up for adoption. Further, no consideration is given to the fact that unmarried fathers would not even be able to cover a non-spouse on their insurance assuming they had a job with insurance.

Below is a quote from Prof. Beck's own writings, which shows her viewpoints about men:

"Mothers benefit from putative father registries, because registries
relieve them of the need to notify men of pregnancy or adoption. Nearly
one out of every three American women is abused by her male partner;
thirty-one percent of deaths of pregnant and postpartum women result from
domestic violence, one-third of female homicides result from domestic
violence; one out of every five college women is raped, often while impaired. Women have good reason to fear their partners under routine
conditions, and pregnancy escalates abuse. Pregnant women rightly fear
telling their partners of a pregnancy because of the prevalence of domestic
violence and homicide—especially in this age in which states
automatically enforce child support obligations for women receiving
Medicaid or cash welfare payments. Additionally, a birth father may
push a woman toward abortion, and she may not want that pressure. Child
support obligations may evoke men’s violence against women, although
Congress enabled women to conceal paternal identity in the presence of
domestic violence when applying for welfare in order to protect them from
just such abuse. Additionally, the almost routine date rape of impaired
young women and the frequency with which young men and women have
multiple sexual partners means that some mothers cannot identify the fathers of their children. The mother who was raped may resist identifying
the rapist to foreclose his having any rights in an adoption. A mother may
choose not to identify a father, may not be able to identify a father, or may
resist doing so. The bottom line is the father who relies upon a woman to
notify him of a pregnancy has misplaced his reliance, and the woman who
is relieved of a requirement to notify a father is safer.
The registry provides a woman with knowledge of whether a man
wishes to assume custodial and financial responsibility for a child without
putting herself in harm’s way to ask him. That information assists her in
planning for her child—whether for adoption, abortion, or parenting.
The registry protects the privacy of women in that they do not have to
identify possible fathers and thus expose their sexual contacts to adoption
agencies, courts, or adoptive parents. The registry also eliminates the need
for published service on fathers that would broadcast mothers’ names and
their pregnancy in newspapers or the need to mail such notice letters to
homes where this information may be disclosed to persons other than the
Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDoQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Flaw.capital.edu%2FInside_Capital_Law%2FCurrent_Students%2FLaw_Review%2FArticles%2FVolume_36_Issue_2%2FBeck_PDF.aspx&ei=aV6YT6OsJJKg8gSFp83vBQ&usg=AFQjCNFgsyTfZOZ4XdQkYhBPXGL5Q6KU0g&sig2=6rUeRtxqsxATMKIE6yzLNA

Leave a comment
Comment Information
2015 Top 100 Lawyers - ASLA Lead Counsel Rated Rated By Super Lawyers American Legal Institute | America's Top Attorneys 2016 Nation's Premier Top Ten Ranking 2016 | NAFLA 10 Best 2014-2017 | 4 Years Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Family Law Attorneys ™ Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb The National Trial Lawyers National Association of Distinguished Counsel | Nation's Top One Percent National Academy of Jurisprudence Rue Rating | Best Attorneys Of America | Lifetime Charter Member The National Advocates Top 100 Lawyers | America's Premier Attorneys Law Firm 500 | 2016 Honoree America's Top 100 Attorneys American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys 2017
Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
120 S. Central Avenue
Suite 450
St. Louis (Clayton), Missouri 63105

Toll Free: 855-805-0595
Fax: 314-963-9191
St. Louis Law Office Map