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What is the Georgia Putative Father Registry?

We have previously discussed several aspects of adoption and paternity in this blog, including some parts of the adoption process, and the distinct concepts of biological and legal paternity. To refresh, the father of a child born outside a marriage must legitimate a child if he wishes to have any legal rights to seek visitation or custody. This can be done by acknowledging the paternity of the child on a Paternity Acknowledgment (PA) form filed with the state, or by court decree. One of the rights that comes with being a legal father is the right to be notified if the child is subject to an adoption proceeding. However, what if one thinks he may be the father, but has not signed a PA, or otherwise become the legal parent of a child?

There is a list that is kept by the Georgia Department of Public Health, that is called the "Putative Father Registry." The word "putative" just means basically "supposed to be" for these purposes. On this list are men who have signed PAs for children born out of wedlock, but also the names and addresses of men who have registered themselves as possible biological parents, but not legal fathers. The purpose of the registry is to allow the state or other adoption agencies or attorneys to send notice to possible fathers when a child is subject to adoption.

Georgia suggests that men who have had a sexual relationship that might result in pregnancy out of wedlock place their names in the registry so as to be notified in case any child that results is put up for adoption. It is best to do this as soon as possible, even before a child is born. This can be done by filling out form number 3960 and providing the man's name, address and social security number, along with the same information for the mother, and either the due date or birth date and place of birth of the child.

The registry is not a public record and can be searched only by designated people and entities, such as Georgia governmental agencies or members of the Georgia Bar (attorneys). Having a child, especially out of wedlock, is a big responsibility, and fathers do have rights when it comes to whether a child is adopted. As this is a complex process, people with questions may wish to consider consulting an experienced family law attorney.

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