What does “alleged father” mean and why does it matter?

Posted on: June 13th 2011

alleged father adoptionIf you are pregnant and considering adoption, you are probably trying to understand how your baby’s father fits into an adoption.  In California this will depend on the father’s legal status.  In California, a father is either a presumed, or legal father or an  alleged father.  This post will answer:

  • What is an alleged father?
  • Is there a difference between an alleged father and a presumed father?
  • What rights does the alleged father have?

What is an alleged father?

An alleged father is a man who is not married to the birth mother and his name does not appear on  the baby’s birth certificate.  He is a possible biological father of a child, and his paternity has not been proven with a paternity test.  He is typically the birth mother’s boyfriend or someone she had a one-time encounter with.  A man who drugs and rapes a woman is also considered an alleged father.  Every state has their own definition of this type of potential father.  Many use the term “putative” father.

What is the difference between an alleged father and a presumed father?

A presumed father is the legal father of the child.  This father is either married to the birth mother or his name is on the baby’s birth certificate.  Sometimes he is not the biological father of the child.  A presumed father has more legal rights than an alleged father.  His consent to the adoption is required.  If  he refuses to consent, but does not oppose the adoption, then his right may be terminated through other court action. 

Terminating all potential fathers’ rights is critical in any adoption.  This is true even if the birth mother doesn’t know who the father is, where he lives, or how to get in touch with  him.  It is really important that the birth mother is honest about all potential birth fathers.  An attorney will  address and terminate each man’s rights, if any.  This makes the adoption solid for all parties involved.

What rights does the alleged father have?

California law requires an attorney to serve the alleged father with notice of the adoption.  The notice tells him that the birth mother states he may be the father of the baby.  It also includes the name of the birth mother and when  the baby was or is due to  be born.  The potential father has 30 days to act on the notice.  He must file a court action to establish his parental rights.

 Here are some things to note about an alleged father’s rights under California law:

  • He does not have an automatic right to custody, but
  • An alleged father gets notice of the adoption plan.  
  • He can sign a “Waiver of the Right to Further Notice of Adoption Planning” form 
  • This form does not terminate his rights, but
  • It is the basis for terminating his rights.  
  • He must initiate a legal action if he wishes to rescind his Waiver.

I don’t want to contact the baby’s father, what do I do?

We will handle everything for you.  You  don’t have to contact the father if you don’t want to. Feel free to contact me with questions. I’m happy to help.