COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – An Ohio dad lost his parental rights to his newborn child because he waited too long to establish himself as the father.
The Ohio Supreme Court issued the ruling Thursday in connection to a Van Wert County case.
Under Ohio law, there is a putative father registry, and the law says unless registered, a father’s consent is not required for the adoption of a child. A putative father is one that does not necessarily have a legal relationship with the child. In this case, the mother and father were not married. The father was 18 years old, and the mother was 17.
An adoption petition was filed three days after the birth. Seventeen days later, the father filed an action in a neighboring court seeking genetic testing to prove paternity and to gain custody. Then, he filed an objection to the adoption in the same court as the adoption petition was filed.
The law says that a putative father must register no later than 15 days after the child’s birth.
The adoptive parents asked the court to reject the father’s objection saying that they did not need his consent since he did not register in time as a putative father.
In March 2021, the probate court ruled that the adoption could proceed, and the case made its way through the court system to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In today’s opinion, the Court determined that “the law is clear on what steps a putative father must take to preserve his right to object to an adoption and that the father’s failure to timely register cost him his right to consent.”
The court noted that in prior decisions, a biological father was allowed to consent or not but only if he was declared the father before the adoption petition was filed. In this case, the father’s efforts to have himself declared the biological father after the adoption petition did not give him the right to consent.