Birth Fathers’ Rights in New Jersey: What to Know About the Adoption Process
If you’re facing an unexpected pregnancy in New Jersey and considering putting your baby up for adoption, you need to know about birth fathers’ rights. While New Jersey law is favorable for birth mothers, birth fathers also have rights and can have a say in your adoption plan. We’ll cover everything you need to know about birth father rights in New Jersey, so that you’re prepared for the adoption process as a birth mother.
Fathers’ rights in New Jersey
In New Jersey, unmarried mothers automatically get child custody and it’s an important part of their rights as a birth mother. An unmarried father needs to claim paternity for a child before he can exercise his rights as a father. Claiming paternity is simply filing a petition to New Jersey family courts to legally confirm that a man is a child’s father. Depending on your relationship with the biological father, there are a few scenarios where birth father rights will be important as you consider adoption.
Adoption when the father is known
For cases where the birth father is known, he needs to sign off on the adoption. For the adoption to happen, he needs to be told that the birth mother wants to put the baby up for adoption and agree to it.
If you attempt to contact the birth father but don’t hear back from him, the state automatically terminates his paternal rights. That means that you can make the decisions about the child’s future on your own if there’s no response from the father. New Jersey gives birth fathers 20 days to respond if they live in New Jersey and 35 days to respond if they live outside of the state. After that point, the father can’t come back and try to claim paternity or stop an adoption.
If you can get in touch with the birth father, he can agree to the adoption and terminate his rights as a father. Just like for a birth mother, birth fathers can terminate their parental rights once 72 hours have passed since the child’s birth. That law is in place to help birth parents decide if adoption is the right choice for them during the first 72 hours after giving birth. Once parental rights are terminated, the adoption can go to a family court, get finalized, and the adoptive parents get legal custody of the child.
No matter what your situation is with the biological father, an adoption agency can help you communicate with him. If you want to avoid talking to the father or you need help explaining the benefits of adoption, an agency can do the communication for you. Agencies are especially helpful for explaining a birth father’s rights to him so he can make an educated decision.
Adoption when the father is unknown
In cases where you don’t know who the father is, an adoption agency can help you complete the adoption process. If there are a few potential fathers, you’ll need to reach out to all them. The rights of all potential fathers can be terminated. In these cases, an adoption agency can be a big help. They can help you track down multiple potential fathers, then do the communicating for you. An adoption agency can tell the men that you plan on giving the baby up for adoption, and terminate their rights as a potential biological father.
As the child’s mother, your opinion matters in the adoption process. We’re here to help you navigate the New Jersey adoption process as an adoption agency and legal practice. We’ll make sure you get the adoption you want for you and your child while respecting the biological father’s rights.
Whether you know adoption is right for you or you’re still trying to make the decision, we can answer any questions you may have so you make the right choice for you and your baby. Get in touch with our caring case workers today to see if adoption is right for you.