Alabama Paternity – It’s the Registry, Stupid

The Alabama Court of Appeals says an unwed father who wants to protect his status as the child’s father needs to register with the Alabama Putative Father Registry, period. In L.C.S. v. J.N.F., Case Nos. 2030567 & 2031028 (Ala. Civ. App. April 15, 2005), L.C.S. was the Mom and J.N.F. was the Dad.

The mother had indicated in pediatric records (but apparently not on the birth certificate) that Dad was the father, and subsequent DNA testing confirmed paternity. However, the maternal grandparents had filed adoption proceedings with Mom’s consent. This litigation was about whether the father had lost his right to contest the adoption proceedings because he didn’t register with the Alabama Putative Father Registry. The litigation proceeded on dual tracks, in probate court on the grandparents’ adoption petition and in juvenile court on Dad’s paternity petition.

The procedural history is long, involved, and largely irrelevant to the family law principle at hand, which is the Appeals Court’s determination that the father could not object to the adoption of the child by the maternal grandparents because he failed to comply with Ala. Code § 26-10C-1(i), which provides that “Any person who claims to be the natural father of a child and fails to file his notice of intent to claim paternity pursuant to subsection (a) prior to or within 30 days of the birth of a child born out of wedlock, shall be deemed to have given an irrevocable implied consent in any adoption proceeding.” Dad eventually filed with the Alabama Putative Fathers Registry, but there was no record of the registration until the child was more than a year old.